November 22, 2009

The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

Radcliffe Emerson, the irascible husband of fellow archaeologist and Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, has earned the nickname "Father of Curses" -- and at Mazghunah he demonstrates why. Denied permission to dig at the pyramids of Dahshoor, he and Amelia are resigned to excavating mounds of rubble in the middle of nowhere. And there is nothing in this barren area worthy of their interest -- until an antiquities dealer is murdered in his own shop. A second sighting of a sinister stranger from the crime scene, a mysterious scrap of papyrus, and a missing mummy case have all whetted Amelia's curiosity. But when the Emersons start digging for answers in an ancient tomb, events take a darker and deadlier turn -- and there may be no surviving the very modern terrors their efforts reveal.

So I don't have much to say about the third book in the Amelia Peabody series. What was incredibly funny was the way Peabody talks about Emerson in the story as if he were a woman, with his fussing and hysterics and sensitivity of emotion and soft heart...yet outwardly of course he is blustery, always yelling and cursing, and quite manly.  I found the more in depth description of archeological methods and techniques informative and interesting, as well as the description of the various settings, especially the Cairo's bazaars.

Normally Peter's characters are likeable or interesting even though they may be responsible for evil-doing. In The Mummy Case I did not really care for some of the secondary characters, which impeded my enjoyment of the story.  There seemed to be too much going on in the plot as well, making events confusing. Actually I got irritated and finished the book as quickly as I could...I have now moved onto Lion in the Valley, the fourth book in the series.  Maybe I moved on to The Mummy Case too soon after The Curse of the Pharaohs but I don't think so as I have been liking Lion in the Valley so much more.

My Rating: 3.5


Related Posts:
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

November 20, 2009

Cover Love

These covers are divine.  Cannot wait to read the stories contained within them...

February 2, 2010. Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner, or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that knows not the bounds of her great family's stalwart keep.

The latter path is hers for the taking when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable, once he determines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his stars. The breathless intrigue that ensues is the stuff of beloved legend. But those familiar with Shakespeare's muse know only half the story...

January 12, 2010. Psychiatrist Andrew Marlowe, devoted to his profession and the painting hobby he loves, has a solitary but ordered life. When renowned painter Robert Oliver attacks a canvas in the National Gallery of Art and becomes his patient, Marlow finds that order destroyed. Desperate to understand the secret that torments the genius, he embarks on a journey that leads him into the lives of the women closest to Oliver and a tragedy at the heart of French Impressionism.

Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. THE SWAN THIEVES is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.

December 29, 2009. On the brink of revolution, with a tide of hate turned against the decadent royal court, France is in turmoil - as is the life of one young woman forced to leave her beloved Paris. After a fire destroys her home and family, Claudette Laurent is struggling to survive in London. But one precious gift remains: her talent for creating exquisite dolls that Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France herself, cherishes. When the Queen requests a meeting, Claudette seizes the opportunity to promote her business, and to return home...Amid the violence and unrest, Claudette befriends the Queen, who bears no resemblance to the figurehead rapidly becoming the scapegoat of the Revolution. But when Claudette herself is lured into a web of deadly political intrigue, it becomes clear that friendship with France's most despised woman has grim consequences. Now, overshadowed by the spectre of Madame Guillotine, the Queen's dollmaker will face the ultimate test.

January 21, 2010. Katherine Ashley, the daughter of a poor country squire, happily secures an education and a place for herself in a noble household. But when Thomas Cromwell, a henchman for King Henry VIII, brings her to the royal court as a spy, Kat enters into a thrilling new world of the Tudor monarchs.

Freed from a life of espionage by Cromwell's downfall, Kat eventually befriends Anne Boleyn. As a dying favor to the doomed queen, Kat becomes governess and surrogate-mother to the young Elizabeth Tudor. Together they suffer bitter exile, assassination attempts, and imprisonment, barely escaping with their lives. But they do, and when Elizabeth is crowned, Kat continues to serve her, faithfully guarding all the queen's secrets (including Elizabeth's affair with the dashing Robert Dudley) . . . and ultimately emerging as the lifelong confidante and true mother-figure to Queen Elizabeth.

March 23, 2010. It's 1559. A young woman painter is given the honor of traveling to Michelangelo's Roman workshop to learn from the Maestro himself. Only men are allowed to draw the naked figure, so she can merely observe from afar the lush works of art that Michelangelo sculpts and paints from life. Sheltered and yet gifted with extraordinary talent, she yearns to capture all that life and beauty in her own art. But after a scandal involving one of Michelangelo's students, she flees Rome and fears she has doomed herself and her family.

The Creation of Eve is a riveting novel based on the true but little-known story of Sofonisba Anguissola, the first renowned female artist of the Renaissance. After Sofi's flight from Rome, her family eagerly accepts an invitation from fearsome King Felipe II of Spain for her to become lady-in-waiting and painting instructor to his young bride. The Spanish court is a nest of intrigue and gossip, where a whiff of impropriety can bring ruin. Hopelessly bound by the rules and restrictions of her position, Sofi yearns only to paint. And yet the young Queen needs Sofi's help in other matters-inexperiences as she is, the Queen not only fails to catch the King's eye, but she fails to give him an heir, both of which are crimes that could result in her banishment. Sofi guides her in how best to win the heart of the King, but the Queen is too young, and too romantic, to be satisfied. Soon, Sofi becomes embroiled in a love triangle involving the Queen, the King, and the King's illegitimate half brother, Don Juan. And if the crime of displeasing the King is banishment, the crime of cuckolding him must surely be death.

Combining art, drama, and history from the Golden Age of Spain, The Creation of Eve is an expansive, original, and addictively entertaining novel that asks the question: Can you ever truly know another person's heart?

April 20, 2010. The Arcane Society was born in turmoil when the friendship of its two founders evolved into a fierce rivalry. Nicholas Winters’s efforts led to the creation of a device of unknown powers called the Burning Lamp. Each generation of male descendants who inherits it is destined to develop multiple talents—and the curse of madness. Plagued by hallucinations and nightmares, notorious crime lord Griffin Winters is convinced he has been struck with the Winters Curse. But even as he arranges a meeting with the mysterious woman Adelaide Pyne, he has no idea how closely their fates are bound, for she holds the missing lamp in her possession. But their dangerous psychic experiment makes them the target of forces both inside and outside of the Arcane Society. And though desire strengthens their power, their different lives will keep them apart—if death doesn’t take them together.

July 15, 2010. They say I’m mad and perhaps it’s true. It is well known that lust brings madness and desperation and ruin. But upon my oath, I never meant any harm. All I wanted was to be happy, to love and to be loved in return, and for my life to count for something. That is not madness, is it?

So begins the story of Eleanor Glanville, the beautiful daughter of a seventeenth-century Puritan nobleman whose unconventional passions scandalized society. When butterflies were believed to be the souls of the dead, Eleanor’s scientific study of them made her little better than a witch. But her life—set against a backdrop of war, betrayal, and sexual obsession—was that of a woman far ahead of her time.

November 15, 2009

The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

From the Back Cover:
Victorian gentlewoman Amelia Peabody Emerson does not relish the joys of home and hearth, For while she and her husband, the renowned archeologist Radcliffe Emerson , dutifully go about raising their young son. Ramses, Amelia dreams only of the dust and detritus of ancient civilizations. Providentially, a damsel in distress-demands their immediate presence is Egypt. The damsel is Lady Baskerville, and the site is a tomb in Luxor recently discovered by Sir Henry Baskerville, who promptly died under bizarre circumstances. Amelia and Radcliffe arrive to find the camp in disarray, terrified workers, an eccentric group of guests...and a persistent rumour of a ghost on the grounds. Now the indomitable Amelia must battle evil forces determined to stand between her and her beloved antiquities-and make her foray into the truth a most deadly affair...

Another delightful mystery, the second book in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels, Barbara Mertz). The story is worth reading for the first chapter alone with the hilarity of Ramses Emerson's adventures and opinions, Amelia and Radcliffe Emerson's "catastrophically precocious" son. Despite Amelia's acerbic tone when describing Ramses, she has obvious pride in him though her mind yearns for Egyptian escapades. The author has a gift for creating very colourful secondary characters whether they are animals or ghosts, children or adults and gives each a distinctive voice and personality. I am looking forward to reading more about Ramses and the Egyptian cat that has adopted Peabody and Emerson as its owner.

I think the Amelia Peabody mysteries have captured me fully and I am well on the way to becoming obsessed with the series, like I already am by the Lady Emily Ashton series by Tasha Alexander and the Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn, having purchased and already started reading The Mummy Case with The Lion in the Valley waiting in the wings. Very fitting as I believe Barbara Mertz pioneered the historical fiction mystery series featuring a strong female protagonist. No doubt I will end up reading the entire collection. So I highly recommend the the Amelia Peabody mysteries for those who like humor and wit with murder and mayhem in a historical context.

My Rating: 4.5


Related Posts:
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn

November 1, 2009

Winners of the Gothic Fiction Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered my Gothic Fiction Giveaway. According to List Randomizer the winners are:

Enna has won The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

A Bookshelf Monstrosity has won Perfume: The Story of a Murder by Patrick Suskind

Brizmus has won The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

It was great hearing about all of your gothic fiction favourites and now I have a few more books I must add to my tbr list.

Happy Halloween to All!!!

There was a bit of a mix-up and so Brizmus will be receiving another copy of Perfume: The Story of a Murder rather than The Shadow of the Wind, which means Raspberry is now the winner of Shadow of the Wind!