Tag: Rating: 2.5 stars

Review: The Orchid House

Posted 3 July, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Orchid House
By: Lucinda Riley
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

As a child Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the great house where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to the tranquility of the estate. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.

When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed Wharton Park. Their search takes them back to the 1930s when a former heir to Wharton Park married his young society bride on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt on generations to come.

Aside from The Lavender Garden (review), I had been eyeing this book by Lucinda Riley for a long time. I got a copy of this book early last year. Two interesting things I found out about this book when I started reading it: it does go by another title, Hothouse Flower, and that this is her first novel under her name (she previously published as Lucinda Edmonds).

Read More

Review: King John

Posted 21 May, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

King John
By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: eBook

Under the rule of King John. England is forced into war when the French challenge the legitimacy of Johns claim to the throne and determine to install his nephew Arthur in his place. But political principles. hypocritically flaunted. are soon forgotten. as the French and English kings form an alliance based on cynical self-interest. And as the desire to cling to power dominates Englands paranoid and weak-willed king, his country is threatened with disaster.

One of the lesser-known plays by Shakespeare, King John jumped up my to-read list after I had seen a few production photos floating around for the play. I’m curious to see how it plays out, especially as it sounds like there’s been no move to really rehabilitate the play and give it more attention (though there is a production happening right now…I can’t remember if it’s at the Globe or not though).

Read More

Review: Henry VI (Part One)

Posted 20 February, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Henry VI (Part 1)
By: William Shakespeare
Format/Source: Audiobook by LibriVox

After the death of Henry V, the French revolt and threaten to reclaim their country from English rule. Guided by his Lord Protector, the young King Henry VI journeys to Paris to reaffirm his rule over France. But while Joan of Arc battles the British abroad, discontent is also breeding at home, between the two ancient Houses of York and Lancaster.

This play is the start of the second history tetralogy, and a continuation from events in Henry V (review). This second tetralogy in the Herniad ended up bumped up in my to-read list in anticipation for the second cycle of The Hollow Crown (my excitement cannot be contained, the cast sounds amazing, as was the first cycle :)). As I mentioned in my Twelfth Night review, I was sick some time ago and wasn’t able to read anything, so I ended up listening to some of Shakespeare’s plays instead.

On the plus side, I’m glad I listened to this play instead of reading it because I think it helped me understand the story a bit more because otherwise this play wasn’t terribly interesting, character drama-wise or otherwise. It definitely feels like a prologue to the general upheaval that we know as the War of the Roses, with Henry VI’s court beginning to split between the Lancasters and Yorkists. Do you need to know your medieval English history to read this? Yes and no, I guess. In my case, it sort of helped because the story left my mind to wander at times, and the cast is quite large.

So yeah, the story does fall dull after the Second Act, the Fifth Act becoming more an issue of the marriage contact. The play does show the English-French conflict from both sides, including the role that St. Joan of Arc played in events. I think the Second Act was the strongest in my opinion as the combat lines between the Lancasters and the Yorkists begin to form; pretty intense stuff.

By the end of the play, I can see why the three Henry VI plays were truncated to two episodes for the upcoming sequel. It was all right, and I’m glad I listened to it, but I am looking forward moreso to the next plays and how the court conflict plays out.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship

Posted 18 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship
By: Adrienne Clarkson
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

Never has the world experienced greater movement of peoples from one country to another, from one continent to another. These seismic shifts in population have brought about huge challenges for all societies. In this year’s Massey Lectures, Canada’s twenty-sixth Governor General and bestselling author Adrienne Clarkson argues that a sense of belonging is a necessary mediation between an individual and a society. She masterfully chronicles the evolution of citizenship throughout the ages: from the genesis of the idea of the citizen in ancient Greece, to the medieval structures of guilds and class; from the revolutionary period which gave birth to the modern nation-state, to present-day citizenship based on shared values, consensus, and pluralism. Clarkson places particular emphasis on the Canadian model, which promotes immigration, parliamentary democracy, and the rule of law, and the First Nations circle, which embodies notions of expansion and equality. She concludes by looking forward, using the Bhutanese example of Gross National Happiness to determine how we measure up today and how far we have to go to bring into being the citizen, and the society, of tomorrow.

I was pretty excited when I learned that Adrienne Clarkson was the guest for 2014’s Massey Lectures: Canada’s former Governor General, a prolific career in journalism, writing on a topic sort of in line with what I studied previously, what’s not to like?

Read More

Review: Last Orders

Posted 10 December, 2014 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Last Orders
By: Graham Swift
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Four men once close to Jack Dodds, a London butcher, meet to carry out his peculiar last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea. For reasons best known to herself, Jack’s widow, Amy, declines to join them. On the surface the tale of a simple if increasingly bizarre day’s outing, Last Orders is Graham Swift’s most poignant exploration of the complexity and courage of ordinary lives.

You know my perchance for trying to read Man Booker prize nominees and winners when I have a chance 😉 I’ve long been eyeing this book, partly because I keep hearing it in passing (as well as seeing the author’s books whenever I’m in the bookstore). I recently got my hands on the Picador 40th anniversary edition.

Read More