Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Comments on a Mix of Books

Hailey, Riley & Cassidy at a local pumpkin patch


The giant brush & log heaps are gradually being taken away, but not gone. Nothing is left of the oaks in the photos posted two weeks ago, except two mounds of roots & dirt. The tree that crashed two houses from me was finally carted away this week - the roof is undergoing repair. We've had enough rain that the St. John's remains flooded. The statistics are coming in: Damage to Florida agriculture - 2.5 billion dollars, 60% of that is our citrus crop.

Grace's Recent Reading - A Mixed Bag

SHOGUN by James Clavell - first published 1975

I manged to go more than forty years without reading this book, but when BookBub made me an offer I couldn't refuse . . .

The trouble is, I've been reading Shogun for six weeks or more and still am only little more half-way through. There's only so much torture, mayhem, death, complex conniving, and a shockingly wide culture gap that I can take at one time. (And being told how inferior Western culture is.) So periodically I take a break, sneaking off to lighter fare on my Kindle or paperbacks off my "favorites" shelf. 

Why do I continue to read this book? Because Shogun is a tour de force tale by a Westerner who immersed himself in Japanese culture well enough to portray it to people like me who never got much beyond Madame Butterfly. Are the details of 16th c. Japan correct? I can only assume so, or Shogun wouldn't have become a legend in the publishing world. (The portrayal of the influence of Spain and Portugal in a time when England was just discovering the Orient is also amazingly well done.) So the historian in me keeps reading, even as I wonder if it was really necessary to have almost every last character, minor as well as major, have his/her own Point of View.

I tell myself I'm going to grit my teeth and finish this book, but I'm not certain I will. I mean, do I really want to know the incredibly convoluted details of Japanese politics and battles 500 years before I was born? And read about brutality, savagery, and treachery that make Stephen King novels read like children's fairy tales? 

THE COLE TRILOGY—THE PHYSICIAN by Noah Gordon - first published 2012

When I bought this book for my Kindle, I had no idea what I was getting into. That, like Shogun, I would read and read and read, and only be at 11%.  So when I finished Part One, I took time out for lighter fare on this one too. I am, however, looking forward to finishing the whole saga. It's a remarkable tale of a time even farther back than Shogun - beginning in the year 1021 when Canute the Great was king of Norway, Denmark, and England; i.e., when a Viking ruled.  

Upon the death of his parents, a boy in London is apprenticed to the 11th c. equivalent of a  huckster. A man who travels from town to town, performing magic tricks, selling "snake oil," and, astoundingly, healing the sick after the show is over. The boy gradually discovers he has "the gift," an aptitude for healing far beyond that of his mentor. And when his apprenticeship is over, he sets out for Persia, which, he is told, is the only place he can learn true medicine, not the travesties practiced by the so-called doctors in England. I am currently reading the part where he travels across France, Germany, and into Eastern Europe on roads built by the Roman Empire. That's as far as I've got, but the story is as well written as the plot is well thought out. Mr. Gordon's research is superb, bringing the era to life with amazing details. I am looking forward to reading the rest. 

DEAD STOP by Barbara Nickless

Okay, I suppose I can't call this lighter reading, except that it's standard book length, not an epic. And a contemporary mystery is a big break from two hefty historical novels. I discovered Ms Nickless not too long ago with her first book, Blood on the Tracks, and was delighted when Amazon let me know a second book was out. The heroine, Sydney Parnell, is an ex-marine with PTSD who appears to be hiding in a role where she can use her military skills while attempting to deal with the dead people she sees and hears on a regular basis. The unique setting of the first two books is in and around railroad yards, where Sydney has become a railroad security cop. And she is so very good at it that at the end of Dead Stop it appears she will be moving on to the FBI or the city police. (I'll miss the train background, which was truly fascinating.) This is a series I cannot recommend too highly. Unless you only like your mysteries cozy. Ms. Nickless does not write cozy.


This is about as far from Shogun and The Cole Trilogy as one can get. Maybe not from Dead Stop, as there's quite a bit of violence or talk of violence in between the graphic sex scenes. But Ms Flite creates excellent characters and genuine plots, enough so that, like the books of Ruby Lionsdrake, I enjoy them even though the erotic is not my thing. I also like this series as its prime location is in Rhode Island, and I spent most of my growing up in Connecticut, within a few miles of the Rhode Island border. Which includes encountering mafia families first hand. My neighbor was a capo, and my children grew up so instilled with the rule of omerta (silence) that we were nearly three years in Florida before they told me about the bullet holes they'd seen in my neighbor's Cadillac. 

As far as the "Royally" series is concerned, I think I liked the first book (Royally Bad) better. The hero of Royally Ruined is the crime family's heir apparent, and frankly I expected a bit more for him. But Ms Flite's dialogue is as sassy as the sex is hot; in fact, I can't page over the sex scenes, as I often do, because the quips are too good to miss! So if you're not easily offended, this is a fun series, definitely in the light reading category.


I researched the name  Gay Hendricks, because I felt the author simply had to be male. The total obliviousness to the female mind (deliberate), the badinage, the snark - no way did a woman write this. And yes, he is male and a PhD as well. 

This mystery, the first of a series, is hilarious. The fictional characters priceless, and the wonderfully placed hints about real characters of the early 20th c. both intriguing and nicely integrated into the plot. Because of my age, I recognized the historical characters at first hint but suspect that most will not, making the revelations that much more fun. Sir Errol Hyde is, it seems, a rival of Sherlock Holmes. And although our hero prides himself on being much more knowledgeable about women than Holmes, any female reader is going to be groaning loudly about his cluelessness. 

Basically, this book is well thought out, well written, and filled with humor, both raucous and wry. (It could have used a bit more copy editing, however.)  The intricate plot hinges on world affairs in a time leading up to World War I. I strongly recommend it to those who like their mysteries intelligent and humorous, with outstanding characterizations.

~ * ~
Hmm-mm - I suspect the above comments qualify me as someone with eclectic tastes. Or maybe just plain strange??

~ * ~
For a link to Blair Bancroft's web site, click here. 
For a link to Blair's Facebook Author Page, click here. 

Thanks for stopping by,


No comments:

Post a Comment