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Kristen M has commented on (55) products.

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino
Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling

Kristen M, January 1, 2013

Charlotte Markham is the name of the governess to Paul and James Darrow. She is also a widow, working for a widower in a home where death is no stranger. Still, nothing can prepare Charlotte or the Darrows for what lies in wait for them past the mysterious mist in the forest. And the choices they make once they find themselves in the House of Darkling have the ability to destroy the entire world as we know it.

As is probably obvious, "the world as we know it" in this novel isn't really the world as we know it at all. For us, the veil between life and death is a solid wall and there is no coming back. But Boccacino, inspired by his mother's words and thoughts as her health declined due to cancer, imagines that it is a much less tenuous barrier that can be pierced by mother love. With a heavy dose of the supernatural and some horrific happenings, he brings this dark Victorian tale to life in such a way that may make readers worry that some part of the story could in fact be real. Charlotte is a formidable heroine whose intelligence and moral strength keeps her interesting and the things experienced by Mr. Darrow and the boys seem only too real, especially as I watch family members also dealing with the loss of a young parent.

I can't recommend this book enough. If you are like me, able to stretch your imagination to embrace another bizarre existence beyond our own, you'll likely be a fan of this book.
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The Oracle of Stamboul
The Oracle of Stamboul

Kristen M, January 7, 2012

This is a simple, somewhat cozy read that is nevertheless thought-provoking and fuels a desire to learn about the interesting city of Stamboul and its history. It has wonderful pacing and language and Eleonora is a charming young heroine. The characters around her are also quite engaging, including her host in Stamboul, the charming but fatherly Moncef Bey. This is a fascinating point in history -- the slow disintegration of a once all-powerful empire. The character of Sultan Abdulhamid II was intriguing and I would love to learn more about him at some point. This story has a touch of magical realism but it is basically the tale of an extraordinary child whose talents lead her to become entangled in a critical point in history. It's the sort of novel that has you impatiently waiting for the author's next offering.
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The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
The Sherlockian

Kristen M, January 1, 2011

Graham Moore's first novel is a well-researched and imaginative journey into a brief period in the life of Arthur Conan Doyle and also into the modern community that worships his most well-known creation, Sherlock Holmes.

As is the case many times with dual setting novels, one of the narratives in this book is stronger than the other. The Victorian one is quite wonderful. Moore did a stellar job with the Victorian voice and the story that unfolds is really well done. It explores Conan Doyle's ambivalent feelings about his creation, his personal life and that of his friend and fellow (but unappreciated) author, Stoker, and the women's suffrage movement of the time. And luckily, though not quite as good as the past narrative, the present one gains momentum as the story moves forward and I found myself strongly invested in Harold's plight as well. He is a sympathetic but odd character and you really hope that things work out for him.

I think that Moore has a fantastic career ahead of him if he only improves from the high bar that has been set by The Sherlockian.
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(6 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)

Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom
Winter in Madrid

Kristen M, May 26, 2010

Though this book was not predictable -- and even had a somewhat surprising plot twist near the end -- it was a foregone conclusion that all of the characters would not make it out unscathed. With the types of people that they had to interact with and the system that they had to work in, life was difficult for both the haves and have-nots during this time.

I have read one other book by Sansom (Dissolution) and I appreciate his style and the amount of research he does. This isn't your typical spy or war novel with sex and profanity and senseless violence. It is a well-presented fiction that takes place in a time in Spain's history that was all too real.
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(9 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)

The September Society (Charles Lenox Mysteries) by Charles Finch
The September Society (Charles Lenox Mysteries)

Kristen M, May 26, 2010

This is a very satisfying sequel to A Beautiful Blue Death. Lenox's doctor friend McConnell assists him again but he also takes on an apprentice, Dallington, a younger son of a titled friend. They are both interesting characters and add depth to the story. Lenox himself is a very noble and likeable character, a sort of anti-Poirot. He is a detective for the sake of the clients, not his own ego, and is therefore willing to share his information with the police and the family members. He is also in love which is quite endearing.
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(9 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)

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