Tag: Books: NetGalley

Review: Rebellion – The History of England (Volume 3)

Posted 2 October, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Rebellion: The History of England from James I to the Glorious Revolution (A History of England, Vol. 3)
By: Peter Ackroyd
Format/Source: Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley

Peter Ackroyd has been praised as one of the greatest living chroniclers of Britain and its people. In Rebellion, he continues his dazzling account of The History of England, beginning the progress south of the Scottish king, James VI, who on the death of Elizabeth I became the first Stuart king of England, and ending with the deposition and flight into exile of his grandson, James II.

The Stuart monarchy brought together the two nations of England and Scotland into one realm, albeit a realm still marked by political divisions that echo to this day. More importantly, perhaps, the Stuart era was marked by the cruel depredations of civil war, and the killing of a king. Shrewd and opinionated, James I was eloquent on matters as diverse as theology, witchcraft, and the abuses of tobacco, but his attitude to the English parliament sowed the seeds of the division that would split the country during the reign of his hapless heir, Charles I. Ackroyd offers a brilliant, warts-and-all portrayal of Charles’s nemesis, Oliver Cromwell, Parliament’s great military leader and England’s only dictator, who began his career as a political liberator but ended it as much of a despot as “that man of blood,” the king he executed.

England’s turbulent seventeenth century is vividly laid out before us, but so too is the cultural and social life of the period, notable for its extraordinarily rich literature, including Shakespeare’s late masterpieces, Jacobean tragedy, the poetry of John Donne and Milton and Thomas Hobbes’s great philosophical treatise, Leviathan. Rebellion also gives us a very real sense of the lives of ordinary English men and women, lived out against a backdrop of constant disruption and uncertainty.

This book follows up from the first two volumes in the series, Foundation (review) and Tudors (review). I was quite excited when I found it while browsing through NetGalley as I enjoyed the first two volumes. Peter Ackroyd does a wonderful job in laying out events in English history. This book will be available on 21 October 2014.

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DNF: The Fortune Hunter

Posted 25 July, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Fortune Hunter
By: Daisy Goodwin
Format/Source: galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as “Sisi,” is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.

Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.

I first heard of this novel in passing I believe in a list of “books to watch out for in 2014.” So when I saw the book on NetGalley, I had to check it out. Ever since I went to Austria a few years ago, I’ve been curious about the Austrian monarchy and Sisi; she’s not really mentioned much in the general European history courses and from what I saw at the Schonbrunn exhibit, she was quite the fashionable monarch of her time with a very interesting life. So I was quite happy when I was approved a copy of this novel to read.

Unfortunately after several chapters, I had to put it down. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on exactly; it felt like a parade of characters, I didn’t find Captain Bay Middleton very interesting, and it was like moving through the busy pump rooms of the 19th century. The opening chapter did not grab my attention enough to carry on and subsequent chapters left me feeling equally indifferent. Given this and the stack of books on my to-read pile that are also waiting to be read, I sadly had to put it down. I may change my mind in the future and pick this book up again, but for now it’s left as a DNF for me.

This book will be available on 10 July 2014.

Visit the author’s official website || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: The Art Restorer

Posted 9 July, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

The Art Restorer
By: Julián Sánchez
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley

In this long-awaited sequel to The Antiquarian, the discovery of an enigma concealed in the paintings of the Spanish artist Sert proves the restoration of the past to be a fascinating but deadly business

Enrique Alonso travels from his new home in Manhattan to San Sebastián, Spain, to attend the reopening of the San Telmo museum, where his ex-wife, Bety, works in public relations. There he meets American Craig Bruckner, a retired art restorer studying the museum’s collection of works by Sert—a contemporary of Picasso and Dalí who worked for the most famous billionaires of his time and whose mural American Progress graces the walls of Rockefeller Center. When Bruckner is found drowned in La Concha bay, Bety suspects foul play and Enrique agrees to help her look into the man’s death. Their investigation reveals a mystery connected with Sert’s checkered past, which provides fertile ground for the new thriller Enrique is writing, and the plot develops in parallel to his research.

Enrique and Bety’s reconstruction of the artist’s clandestine activities during World War II leads them to Paris, Barcelona, and New York, and in the process forces them to face their own past. But they are not the only ones interested in Sert’s work, and it appears there is more to his paintings than meets the eye.

I requested for this book because the premise sounded really interesting–artists, set in Spain, a mystery. I actually have The Antiquarian on my want-to-read list but was approved a copy of this novel; I’m sure it won’t be too spoilerish that I’m reading the second novel in the series first 😉

This book will be available on 8 July 2014. This book is part of the Everything Espana Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

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Review: A Rose for Winter

Posted 2 July, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

A Rose for Winter
By: Laurie Lee
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Open Road Integrated Media via NetGalley

A passionate ode to the magic of Spain, composed by one of its most ardent admirers

Fifteen years after the events described in his acclaimed autobiographies, As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Moment of War, Laurie Lee returned to Spain, the land of his youth and experience. He found a country bowed but not broken, where the heavy gloom of the recent past was shot through with the vibrant rays of tradition: the exquisite ecstasy of the flamenco, the pomp and circumstance of the bullfight, the eternal glory of Christ and church.

From the smuggler’s paradise of Algeciras to the Moorish majesty of Granada, Lee paints the wonders of Spain with a poet’s brush. To read A Rose for Winter is to be transported to one of the most enchanted places on earth.

Suffice to say, the premise of this nonfiction title was what caught my attention. I’ve never been to Andalucia so I’m always up for reading travelogues set in the region. Apparently I had also added other books by this author to my wishlist before, so I suppose this came to my attention in good time 😉

This edition of the book was released on 10 June 2014. This book is part of the Everything Espana Reading Challenge 2014 that I am participating in.

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Review: Bellweather Rhapsody

Posted 6 June, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 8 Comments

Bellweather Rhapsody
By: Kate Racculia
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

Fifteen years ago, a murder/suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it. Now hundreds of high school musicians, including quiet bassoonist Rabbit Hatmaker and his brassy diva twin, Alice, have gathered in its cavernous, crumbling halls for the annual Statewide festival; the grown-up bridesmaid has returned to face her demons; and a snowstorm is forecast that will trap everyone on the grounds. Then one of the orchestra’s stars disappears—from room 712. Is it a prank, or has murder struck the Bellweather once again?

The search for answers entwines a hilariously eccentric cast of characters—conductors and caretakers, failures and stars, teenagers on the verge and adults trapped in memories. For everyone has come to the Bellweather with a secret, and everyone is haunted.

I think I’ve encountered this novel a few times earlier this year but it wasn’t until a book blogger reviewed it–to glowing feedback–that I decided to check it out on NetGalley. I was approved of a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book was released on 13 May 2014.

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