Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What I Read Last Weekend

What I Read Last Weekend . . .

Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock -- Young Adult Historical Fantasy

This book seems to be a companion to Princess Ben though it mostly stands alone.

Fortitude, called Trudy, is the orphaned daughter of a barroom maid. Her best friend Tomas aka Tips, the miller's son, is a young rascal who is always getting into mischief, endearing himself only to Trudy. Only Tips knows Trudy's deepest secret: that she has the gift of Sight. Others suspect the girl can see the future but only Tips knows what Trudy sees. When the children are 12 and 13, a strange man comes and hires Tips to apprentice as a soldier. Trudy is comforted by the boy's letters and gifts from faraway lands and longs for his return. Dizzy, a princess and second in line to the throne of Montagne, is bored. She longs for adventure and excitement. When Duke Roger of Farina rejects her boring older sister, Queen Temperance, and proposes to her, she accepts. Dizzy looks forward to the excitement traveling to Farina will bring while her beloved Nonna Ben (from Princess Ben) has her hands full with wedding preparations and keeping Dizzy in line. Nonna Ben tries and tries to get Dizzy to act like a lady but to no avail. By her side is her faithful cat Escofier who may or may not be magical. Duke Roger's mother is furious with him for easily giving up the throne of Montagne. She is ambitious and ruthless and won't rest until she has control of Montagne. When the characters' lives intersect, little do they know what the fateful meeting will bring. Only Trudy has some inkling and she doesn't like it one bit. The story is told through the letters and memoirs of Trudy, Ben, Tips, the Duchess, Felis el Gato aka The Booted Maestro (Tips' master), Dizzy's diary, encyclopedia entries and even a play. I found this method of story telling to be ineffective. Switching from format to format, character to character was very jarring and the story telling felt detached. The encyclopedia entries gave too much away. I liked the story once it got going, though it was predictable but The story alludes to events that happened in Princess Ben and other events that happened before this story which is very confusing. The only character I really liked and cared about was Trudy. I wanted to like Dizzy for her spunk and unconventionality but she was annoying and bratty. Nonna Ben, who used to be spunky and adventurous as a girl, is now rather stuffy and proper for the most part. I can't say whether I'd recommend this book or not, just that it really wasn't my favorite. If it had been told in a more engaging manner perhaps I would have liked it more. 

Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen (Her Royal Spyness Mystery 3) -- Historical Mystery

Lady Georgiana is stuck in a miserable rut. Her house cleaning business has fallen off since the Season ended. Belinda is busy with her smooth-talking, fast-driving Italian lover and even Darcy has disappeared. Then Georgie hits upon an inspiration which in typical Georgie fashion goes terribly awry. Then Scotland Yard hears about her latest scheme and banishes her back to Scotland to keep an eye on her royal cousins who are in the neighborhood for a Grose Hunting Party. It seems that someone has been causing dangerous accidents and that someone is an insider! Upon arriving in Scotland, Georgie is greeting with the news that "that American woman" and a party of friends have been foisted on Binky and Fig and Binky has invited two Scottish cousins to stay. An accident has laid up Binky leaving Fig alone to deal with a party of vulgar guests. Georgie is certain that her brother's accident was no accident but how can she prove it? She's supposed to have a contact on the inside but she doesn't know who. She has her hands full trying to avoid a sleazy stranger, Prince Seigfriend and a a house full of vulgar guests while trying to stay alive and keep her family safe. This book is my favorite in the series so far. I especially loved all the details of the Grouse hunting party and all the little things about upper class British life at that time. It was interesting to see their conceptions of Americans and the differences between them and us. The mystery was difficult to figure out. I suspected the who but the motive and means really weren't there until Georgie uncovered some facts. The quirky secondary characters made me giggle a lot. My favorite character is Granddad. He's so warm and kind; exactly what Georgie needs. Georgie is growing up and learning to fend for herself and speak up for herself when necessary. Her romance begins to heat up but still keeps an aura of mystery and excitement while remaining perfectly clean. This story will appeal to fans of Gosford Park and those who adore the details of upper class English life. I loved it and look forward to more!

Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen (Her Royal Spyness Mystery 4) -- Historical Mystery

Georgie is despondent once again. With no hopes of money or matrimony (except Prince Siegfried ewww) and alone in London, Georgie doesn't know what to do. Darcy remains mysterious and a bit elusive and Georgie finds herself longing for him. Binky and Fig show up unexpectedly with big news which causes Georgie to think home is anywhere but sweet home. She's commanded by Her Majesty to attend a royal wedding in Transylvania. The bride is a former school mate of Georgie's who has requested Georgie has a bridesmaid. Though Georgie barely remembers Maria Teresa aka Fatty Matty, she jumps at the chance to get away. HM requires Georgie to travel with a chaperone and a maid but where to find a maid who will be willing to go to Romania for no pay? Enter Queenie, the moon-faced Cockney maid who provides the comic relief. Once in Transylvania, Georgie begins to think staying home with her family would have been a wiser choice. It's cold and snowy, the locals are superstitious and suspicious and the castle is creepy. Then a party guest drops dead at the dinner table and nearly causes an international incident. It means that one of the guests is a killer. Georgie swears a vampire entered her room at night and was about to bite her and even her maid has seen a strange man in her room. Since there's no way in or out of the castle, it must be a vampire, right? The clues seem to point that way to Georgie though no one else believes her. She's determined not to get bitten and to solve the mystery once and for all. This is my least favorite of the series. It's not quite as dreadful as I feared it would be; more Northanger Abbey than Twilight; but since I am not into gothic stories I just found this one completely over the top. Georgie reacts like a silly, scared young girl and lets her imagination run wild (a tribute to Northanger Abbey?). The royals are all two-dimensional and don't add much to the story. I can't stand Belinda who seems to have no morals at all and is on the fast track to becoming Georgie's mother or worse. The new characters provide many giggles though, especially Queenie who is my new favorite character.  I also liked Darcy in this book as we get to know him a bit better but he's still maddeningly mysterious. Georgie's romance heats up again but is left unfulfilled as unusual circumstances get in the way. The mystery kept me guessing and the clues are not difficult to connect but the motive seems lacking and completely random. The plot just isn't as tightly written as some of the others. Still, I hope there are more to come. I'm enjoying the series despite this volume.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.