Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

The King's Curse (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels #7; The Cousins' War #6)The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. What an awesome novel! This would have taken me a lot longer to read at almost 500 pages, but it was so good it was difficult to put it down. Philippa Gregory is a master at historical fiction, and regardless of who the hero or heroine is, she makes you fall in love with the character.

Gregory herself calls it a "dark story." And in many ways it is. But it is also the story of a courageous, cultured, crafty, and careful heroine, Margaret Pole.

The book opens in 1499 while Henry VII is still on the throne. Margaret Pole, a Plantagenet by birth, granddaughter of the KingMaker Richard Neville, must live in fear of her name. Her father was the brother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III. Henry Tudor seized the crown upon killing Richard III in battle. To prevent her claim to the throne, she is married off to a Tudor supporter. Her brother Edward, however, had the clearest path to the throne, but they couldn't get rid of him by marrying him off. He was taken prisoner in the Tower and eventually beheaded for no crime except his name.

Margaret was a lady at the court and governess of Henry VII and Elizabeth's children, Arthur and Harry (who became Henry VIII). Later, she was lady of Ludlow Castle when Prince Arthur married Katherine of Aragon and became the Prince and Princess of Wales. Upon Arthur's death, she remained friends with Katherine who later married Harry. Margaret was the governess for their daughter Princess Mary (future queen). Confused yet?

Although the family lines are confusing, Gregory describes things in such a way as it makes perfect sense. The reader comes to know and love Margaret Pole and to root for her through all of her ups and downs. The reader comes to know her children as well, which was also quite interesting. At one point, she must give up one of her sons and send him to a monastery because she cannot support him. This son, Reginald, becomes a scholar, a Cardinal, and the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.

The life of Lady Pole, Countess of Salisbury, is fascinating. Gregory will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to find out what happens next. There are more twist and turns than a soap opera and more deaths and plot twists than a thriller. The only thing that bothered me was that the main character frequently said, "It's early days yet." That is my only complaint. And while the key word in this genre is fiction, the reader learns some history during the ride. I highly recommend this book!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Random Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stacy.  Come join us!

Have you ever woken up and realized you're late?  Of course, you have.  You know that adrenaline rush?  Of course, you do.  Well, not only did that happen to me, but I had the added pleasure of waking to the damn smoke detector!  Double adrenaline rush!  I took care of it though...
That smoke alarm has got nothing on me!  WIN!

Have you seen the video of the little girl who got snatched into the water in Richmond B. C. Canada?  You can't make this stuff up!  Scary!  I think the sea lion wanted food.  Thank goodness no one was hurt.  And kudos to the guy who saved her.  Click on the link to see the video.
Video Link

So, what shows are you watching this summer?  I'm catching up on Criminal Minds.  Some people say it got too creepy for them, and it seemed like it was headed in that direction, but I think they've gotten back to "normally creepy" things.  Season 12 goes on without Morgan (such a shame) and for most of it without Hotch, but Prentiss is back for a while, and the new guy, Luke Alvez, isn't bad.

My husband and I are also watching The Office at the request of all of our grown children.  We're at the end of season 2, and we don't see what all the fuss is about yet.  It's just "OK."  For those that have seen it, does it get better?  I like Steve Carrell, but I don't like the character he plays in this, and he's just not funny.  Maybe it gets better in season 3?  Season 4?

Before I go, here's a glimpse of my current situation and a pun for you.
What did the grape say when it was crushed?
Nothing.  It just let out a little wine.
Get it?


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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I'm linking up with Stacy although my post is not totally random today.

My husband and I made a trip to our state's capital this past weekend to see his daughter and her boyfriend who live there.
They are both vegans, so we ate at some "interesting" places.  One of them was Casa de la Luz (translated - The House of Light).  It is also the home to a school for integral studies, although I'm not sure exactly what that means.  I do know that they are into holistic healing, nutrition, and meditation which we got to witness first hand.  Now, the unusual thing about this restaurant is not that it is wholly vegan, organic, and gluten free, it is that it's a fixed price menu in which you pick up your own silverware and napkin, serve yourself the soup and salad (honor system) then someone brings your entree.  When you're finished, you take your plates to a window, scrape the food into a compost bin, and leave your napkin in a separate bin.  Surprisingly, it was quite tasty.

Another thing we did while there was take a hike along Barton Creek.  It was rocky with a lot of uneven surfaces, and it was so hot out.  We hiked four miles, two miles each way, with our midpoint destination being Taco Deli.  I can't believe I did the whole four miles plus a lot of walking that evening.  I am not a hiker!

We also drove around the city.  We've been there many times, so we were just soaking up some of the local color.  And one of the most popular things to do in Austin is to see the bats.

videoYes, you read that right.  Bats! Mexico free-tailed bats. The largest urban bat colony in North America (about 1.5 million bats) makes their home under the Congress Avenue bridge, and at dusk, from March to November, they all fly out to feed.  Don't worry.  They're herbivores.  They eat 20-30 thousand pounds of insects each night.  We've seen them before, but it was fun to go and watch them again.

Our last stop before coming home was a place was called Biscuits and Groovy.  Just doing out part to

And because this is the fourth of July, I will leave you this photo of my patriotic kitty!

Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!

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Sunday, July 02, 2017

Sunday Synopsis

The Black BookThe Black Book by James Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Patterson has a new co-author, David Ellis, and I like him so far. There's only one thing he did that annoyed me. Hyperbole in the guise of similes. Examples: Chapter 14, "It was colder than a landlord's heart out there..." Chapter 34, "It was colder than a mother-in-law's glare out here." Chapter 42, "It was colder than a witch's nipple in a brass bra." See how irritating that is? Otherwise, I really liked it.

Billy Harney and his twin sister Patti were destined to follow in the footsteps of their father, Chicago's Chief of Detectives, and become cops. Billy gets drawn in to a raid on a brothel that services high profile Chicagoans including the Mayor himself. Later, Patti is called to the scene of a murder involving her twin brother Billy. His partner is dead. The assistant state's attorney is dead, and Billy is left for dead.

They also find out there is corruption in the police force, and someone has been taking kickbacks to keep from blowing the whistle on the brothel, a protection scheme. Now that it has been raided, everyone wants to find the elusive black book that contains not only the high profile clientele but the name of the cop who's running the protection scheme.

Several people are murdered, and the blame is pinned on Billy, and since he was shot, too, he has lost pieces of his memory. Will he be the fall guy, or will the truth come out? And if the truth comes out, who will be cornered?

This was an exciting ride! There are twists and turns along the way. Things aren't always as they seem. That's the kind of book I like.

Kirkus Reviews says this, "... the mystery is authentic, the lead-up genuinely suspenseful, and the leading characters and situations more memorable than Patterson’s managed in quite a while."

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