Monday, June 20, 2011

Quick reviews

Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex

Set amidst the turmoil and political intrigue of late 15th century Italy this is the story of two sisters, Isabella and Beatrice d'Este,  the men they loved and the men they married.

Locked in a fierce rivalry they fight to be the one immortalised by the court painter, Leonardo da Vinci.
I liked how the sisters relationship developed over the years and really enjoyed the detail of the historical background and the glimpse into the life and work of the great Leonardo.

Historical Fiction Challenge

Virgin Widow by Anne O'Brien

Anne Neville is the daughter and heiress of Warwick the Kingmaker. Trapped in a deadly tangle of political intrigue, she is a pawn in an uncertain game, used by the houses of Neville, York and Lancaster.
With its focus on the love between Anne and Richard of Gloucester, later Richard III, it is essentially an historical romance, which normally I might avoid, but this story I already knew was beautifully portrayed and made for engrossing reading. The historical background to the War of the Roses is complex but the author doesn't make the mistake of having too many characters to confuse the reader - I'd recommend this book to those who are beginning to read about this period . I enjoyed it.

Historical Fiction Challenge

Those Who Come After by Elisabeth Holdsworth

Juliana Stolberg tells the story of her life from her early years spent in post WWII Netherlands as the child of an aristocrat family, their emigration to Australia when she is 12 and the struggle to adapt to a new country.
It's the story of the events and experiences of one woman's life , most of them rather sad and depressing, but it's told with an emotional detachment that prevented me ever becoming involved as I would have liked to. I enjoyed the part set in the Netherlands but didn't feel Australia at all which may be an indication of how the author feels as it is a novel based on her own life experience.  I also found the sudden change from one time period to another very confusing at times.

Aussie Author Challenge

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll

New York jeweller Garet James isn't the same as everyone else. She just doesn't know it yet! 
Take one girl...........add a Pandora's box, a vampire, an Elizabethan alchemist, the King of the Faeries and it all adds up to a wonderful blend of history, magic and mythology amid the streets of Manhattan. 
Urban Fantasy is not a genre that normally appeals to me so the fact I enjoyed this immensely does indicate it's a little different than the usual offering. 
Lee Carroll is the pseudonym of a favourite author of mine, Carol Goodman, and her husband, and I look forward to their next book.

Once Upon A Time Challenge  


  1. Hey, I liked all these quickie reviews! Thanks for the short and sweep updates.

  2. Thanks Joanne - had to be short and sweet or they'd never have got a mention.

  3. Historical Fiction is your true love, you choose very good in this genre.