The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

This historical novel is one of many on the subect of the British monarchy by bestselling author Philippa Gregory. Published in 2006, this book is about Katherine of Aragon. “She is known as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, 16181here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Heny VIII’s older brother, Arthur, Katherine’s passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents – the crusading King and Queen of Spain – have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.

Set in the rich beauty of Moorish Spain and the glamour of the Tudor court, The Constant Princess presents a woman whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when he steps into the role she has been prepared for all her life: Henry VIII’s Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army intheir greatest victory against Scotland.”

Philippa Gregory brings history to life in an interesting and thought provoking work that will keep you turning pages until the end of the book.

We have many books by this author at LHPL. Come on in and pick one up.

Review by Christine


The Franciscan Conspiracy

The Franciscan Conspiracy by John Sack

Set in the 1200’s in medeival Europe John Sack takes us on a journey through the life of Franciscan brother, Conrad, as he follows clues delivered to him in secret by a young woman disguised as a novice. Conrad’s strict adherance to his vow of poverty and celibacy, as dictated by his order of monks, images (2)comes into question many times throughout his quest for the truth about his mentor Fra Francis. He suffers many trials inflicted by those who profess to be Christian brothers.

In this audio book the narrator is a little difficult to listen to for more than an hour or so at a time. He tends to drone on and his repertoire of voices is far exceeded by the number of characters he is to portray. Having said that, the book itself is interesting and gives vivid details of the life of monks in those times as well as social conditions and expectations. As a historical novel it is a success.

I borrowed this historical novel, in audio form, from our library through Overdrive. This is a great service for those who like e books and audio books. The books are downloaded to your device for 14 days and automatically returned to the library after that, thereby not taking up precious space on your reader or phone. If you have not finished, you can reborrow the item and when you open it, it will pick up where you last left off reading or listening. All this for free! If you are not signed up as yet and want to be, just stop into the library and ask one of the clerks to help you set up your account.

Review by Christine


Tales for a Winter Night

Tales for a Winter Night: a collection of short stories by the members of the Perth Writers Guild

This book of short stories was published as a fundraiser in 2010 for the Lanark county snowsuit campaign. The authors printed are Lesley Barton, Gene Bassett, Lucinda Dopson, Helen Gamble, Ken McBeath and Suzy Royle.

The stories vary in length and style. I found some of the writers a bit stodgy and unpolished while others had an easy rythmn and practiced voice in their prose. In particular I enjoyed reading the stories by Gene Bassett, author of Stolen Moments and Tall Tales/Short Stories.  (We have both of these books at LHPL)

There is a brief biography for the individual authors complete with black and white photographs.

The collection is well worth reading and gives the reader a chance to sample some of our local writers. I hope that there will be another collection in the future from this guild.

Review by Christine

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man by Gary Inbinder

The Hanged Man is a murder mystery set in  Paris at the end of the 1800’s.

“Achille Lefebvre and his wife Adele are planning to enjoy a stay at a seaside resort…until a body found hanging from a bridge in a public park demands the Inspector’s attention.

Is it suicide or murder?Front CoverA twisted tale of evidence draws Inspector Lefebvre into a shadowy underworld of international intrigue, espionage, and terrorism. Time is of the essence, pressure mounts on the police to get results. Achille’s chief orders him to work with his former partner, Inspector Rousseau, now in charge of a special unit in the newly formed political brigade. But can Achille trust the detective who let him down on another case?

Inspector Lefebvre uses innovative forensics and a network of police spies to uncover a secret alliance, a scheme involving the sale of a cutting-edge high explosives, and an assassination plot that threatens to ignite a world war.”

Inbinder tells his story in an omniscient narrative voice. He has done his historical research for the story involving Russian spies in France, threats of revolution and the newly discovered forensics of fingerprinting.

I found his dialogues stilted and unrealistic. On the plus side, he does attempt to inject his work with interesting vocabulary. He has obviously used a thesaurus to create variety, and kudos to him for that, but unfortunately his knowledge of nuance is lacking, thus making his choice of words, though technically correct, unsuited to the context in which he uses them. This in turn causes his already stiff narrative to have a jarring quality.

Though he sets up the discovery of clues as per the mystery novel formula, his foreshadowing is heavy handed and clumsy. Equally awkward is his attempt at portraying the marital relationship.

Having said all that, the Inspector does get his man and all’s well that ends well.

Sorry Mr. Inbinder, but I am unable to give you more than two stars for this short novel.

Review by Christine

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

“Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy.

He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, Image result for the graveyard book summarywith a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead.

There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy…an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.

But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack who has already killed Bod’s family…”

In typical Neil Gaiman style this is a delightfully strange and captivating story. His writing kind of reminds me of Steven King but this story is definitely geared to middle grade readers (ages 10 – 13)

The novel is illustrated by Dave McKean with unique black and white drawings to enhance all the creepy details that kids will love. If you’re okay with introducing your pre-teen readers to otherworldly writing this is a good place to begin.

Review by Christine


Autumn by Ali Smith

Ali Smith is a writer of note. Her unique style and penchant for playing with words makes for interesting reading. It took me awhile to get used to the rhythm of her prose.

Autumn is divided into two parts. It wasn’t until I reached the first few pages of the second part that the first made any kind of sense to me. I went back and re-read part one and then enjoyed the book much more than I had to that point.

The point of view, third person limited, gives a good look at the two main characters, Daniel and Elisabeth. The use of flashbacks can be a little confusing at times but with careful reading becomes clear.

There is much to think about in the book and we find out that this is the main role of Daniel in Elisabeth’s life; to make her think. She learns to think outside of the societal norms and reach deep inside to intelligently make sense of her world. Autumn is a story of love and loss and how to deal with both.

It was really, quite a lot of work to read this novel but definitely worth the effort.

Review by Christine

A Circus Adventure: a Tumtum & Nutmeg story

A Circus Adventure: a Tumtum & Nutmeg story by Emily Bearn

A Circus Adventure is number 5 in the Tumtum & Nutmeg series, the tales and adventures of two helpful mice.

“When General Marchmouse takes Arthur’s toy bus for an adventure he gets a big surprise. A circus has come to town! But there’s more to this traveling troupe than meets the eye…”

These books are printed in large type, spaciously arranged on the page with numerous pen and ink illustrations of the characters and their antics.

The language and action are well suited to young readers 7 to 9 years of age. Some of the vocabulary will stretch your young reader and working their way through the story will give them a real sense of accomplishment as well as providing a pleasurable read.

Review by Christine