Saturday, July 12, 2014

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly #1) by Charlaine Harris

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, #1)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): Harper Connolly is honest, ethical and loyal - and ever since a bolt of lightening zapped her on the head, she's had an extra-special talent: she can find dead people. It's not a common-or-garden job. Some people find Harper's talent useful and fascinating, but she's getting used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. She's become an expert at getting in, getting paid and getting out, fast.

When Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver, travel to the Ozarks to find a local teenager, missing, believed dead, they discover that someone is willing to go to great lengths to bury a secret. Before long Tolliver's locked away on trumped-up charges and Harper's fighting for her own life.

MY OPINION:

I read Grave Sight very fast, so it must have been good. It definitely held my attention, probably because there was always something about to happen next and I was hardly able to put it down.

Most of the characters are sort-of roughly sketched, enough to give them personality and distinction, but not exploring them in-depth.

Harper, the main protagonist, is an exception. She is quite well explored, so the reader gets a good understanding of what shaped her and how she has been dealing with her past as well as  the present. I didn’t love her, but I liked her. Perhaps it was because she doesn’t let her issues defeat her, she struggles through them and – for the lack of a better word – lives.

Harper’s brother Tolliver is mostly just a shell, an extension of Harper, and their co-dependent relationship is somewhat annoying. I understand why it is the way it is, but still something was missing, some bit of information or evolvement. Perhaps we will get that in the second book.

The book is written in the first person point of view, which tends to be melodramatic, but that is not the case in Grave Sight. The only thing bothering me was the frequent repetition of how much people frown upon Harper’s way of earning her living.

Therefore, looking at the individual elements, Grave Sight feels like a 3-star book, but taking into account how much it hooked me, it deserves 4 stars. Especially because I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series.

3,5 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you like a suspenseful story, with elements of crime novel mixed with a touch of paranormal, this fast and easy read is worth trying. Actually, I think Grave Sight is a perfect summer read.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Revolt of the Eaglets (Plantagenet Saga #2) by Jean Plaidy

The Revolt of the Eaglets (Plantagenet Saga, #2)SUMMARY (from Goodreads): News of Thomas a Becket's martyrdom has spread throughout Christendom and the blame is laid at the feet of Henry Plantagenet, King of England. Two years later, with Becket canonised, Henry's position is precarious: punished at the Pope's insistence for his part in Becket's death, he now also has an enemy in his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, after her discovery of his longstanding infidelity with Rosamund Clifford. Eleanor is determined to seek vengeance, so, with King Philip of France, she encourages her sons to conspire, both against their father and each other. Much embattled, the old eagle Henry struggles to fend off both rebellion and the plots of his aggressively circling offspring...

MY OPINION:

There are several reasons I liked The Revolt of the Eaglets better than The Plantagenet Prelude. 

Firstly, it seemed better written to me, or maybe I just got used to Plaidy’s simplistic style for this saga.

Secondly, as much as I usually root for female characters’ presence in fiction, I think Eleanor’s absence for the most part of the book turned out for the good. When she did appear I liked her better, perhaps because we could then really see the gist of her character. I disapproved of her pitting her sons against Henry and each other, but on the other hand I understood her reasons for acting in such way, and I couldn’t help but admire her resilience and ability to adapt to circumstances and make the best out of them and still find a way to scheme and try to get her way (and succeed).

Thirdly, despite Henry’s many faults, it was captivating to watch him manoeuver between various sides and demands and most of the time manage to get himself out of precarious positions, even if by questionable means (lying, going back on his word, manipulating, etc.) And I felt a little sorry for him wanting to be loved by the sons who hated him, though he had kind of brought that hatred upon himself and though he was a fool (and a willing one at that) to turn a blind eye where John was concerned due to that longing of his for the love of at least one of his sons.

At least Henry’s daughters seemed all right, although the book barely mentioned them, apart from Matilda and Joanna. After all, women were a lot of times only chess pieces, means for making alliances, expanding territories and buying peace. Sad and frustrating, but historically accurate.

Finally, I liked the sense of the author’s sarcastic opinion about the historical events and figures she presents. It appears in subtle, faint undertones in many spots, and I may have just imagined it, but I it gave the book a bit of a special flavour.

Overall, The Revolt of the Eaglets was a gripping historical read, and it convinced me to read more of The Plantagenet Saga. Actually, I can’t wait to start next book, The Heart of the Lion.

4 stars

RECOMMENDATION: If you are looking for an unembellished presentation of history, Plaidy’s works definitely qualify as such, and The Revolt of the Eaglets is no exception.

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