Book Review: The Captive of Kensington Palace“Victoria is virtually a prisoner in Kensington Palace. Her mother and her mother’s chamberlain, Sir John Conroy, are her guards. They will not allow her to associate with anyone that has not been thoroughly and critically checked to make sure Victoria is not made harmed by their very presence. Even her governesses are under scrutiny. She is not even allowed to be alone! Someone must always be with her. Her only hope is in contemplating her coming of age, whereupon she may be free and able to take her “Uncle King’s” crown without her dreaded captures taking regency. Her best friends are her “dear” sister Feodora, married and living in Germany; her Uncle Leopold, her cousin-in-law and uncle as well as King of the Belgians; Lehzen, her faithful governess; the King and Queen, whom she is rarely allowed to see; and her cousins that she is also rarely allowed to see. She has scheming uncles trying to usurp her right to the throne, and family fighting over her. Every day she comes closer to her dream of adulthood, and her guards’ despair at loss of power.” Goodreads

What I Thought

I really do love Jean Plaidy novels they are not about nitty gritty facts they are really stories. The crazypants childhood of Queen Victoria is better left to the biographers. I thought that Victoria was lovely. She was emotional, clever, sentimental, innocent, loyal, and compassionate. She was was an identifiable heroine since as the book went on she turned from her mother’s robot daughter to realizing her mother was using and manipulating her and disliking her for it. It was really great to see the character progress through the book, wishing for her freedom, and getting her voice to stand up to her mother.

The childhood of most monarchs is usually really dull they’re either rangs to riches stories or they’re spoiled rich kids that learn a lesson. This book was neither and it was so refreshing to read for that reason. Victoria was not a bad person and it’s amazing that she wasn’t since she was surrounded by her overbearing rude mother and her mother’s overly ambitious ’friend’ – both of whom are great villans. It’s was even fun to read the conversations between the two of them because they often ended up laughing and I just imagined that crazy evil scientist laugh the entire time in my head. I think that added something to my reading experience.

There was little romance in this and I think that it will probably start in the next one. Albert was maybe in the book for 20 pages so the rest of the series will be about their betrothal,  wedding, and 9000 children while establishing the Victorian era as we know it today. I’ll be reading more in this series. I just love Jean Plaidy’s history light books. They are easy to read, good writing, the good guys are always not obnoxiously good and the bad guy are really bad plus they’re short and you’ve learned a bit more about someone famous in history.

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 Book Review: Homicide in Hardcover“The streets of San Francisco would be lined with hardcovers if rare book expert Brooklyn Wainwright had her way. And her mentor wouldn’t be lying in a pool of his own blood on the eve of a celebration for his latest book restoration.

With his final breath he leaves Brooklyn a cryptic message, and gives her a priceless and supposedly cursed copy of Goethe’s Faust for safekeeping.

Brooklyn suddenly finds herself accused of murder and theft, thanks to the humorless, but attractive, British security officer who finds her kneeling over the body. Now she has to read the clues left behind by her mentor if she is going to restore justice. ” Goodreads

What I Thought

The first in Carlisle’s mystery series Bibliophile Mysteries and it starts strong. A lot of firsts in the series are really slow, filled with back story and turn out to be good jumping off points but not actually good in their own right this was not the case for Homicide in Hardcover. It was quick paced, the amateur sleuth is not terribly annoying [such a boon!], and not enough romance to really bother me.

Brooklyn is a book restorer that I like for the most part. She does seem to get pretty stupid around the love interest but at least it’s not all the time so I can deal with it no problem. The characters are humorous, the bad guys are really quite bad, the dead bodies important, the semi-weird hippy commune is well a semi-weird hippy commune.

The mystery itself was good lots of possibilities and even when narrowed down it could have been any one of three people. I like that and I like the reason Carlisle chose the murder.

It all smacks of cozy mystery so if that’s not your thing then totally skip it. I think that cozy mysteries are lovely, fun and fluffy and should be read often. That being said there was some language [really like not much on 2 pages] and talk of blood which is rare in cozies. So if things likes this bother you then skip it:

Dripping from the eagle’s left wing was blood, so think and crimson, it almost looked real.

I think that anyone who likes mysteries, particularly cozies, and loves books and reading about books [oooh meta!] should read this series. I can’t wait to read more!

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 Book Review: Wicked Plants“A tree that sheds poison daggers, a glistening red seed that stops the heart, a shrub that causes paralysis, a vine that strangles, a leaf that triggered a war, and beans that tell the truth. In Wicked Plants, Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother). Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, this compendium of bloodcurdling botany will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.” Shelfari

What I Thought

Oh my goodness some nonfiction! And it’s about plants! I am not a gardener. I am, in fact, the person you want to keep away from your plants as I kill them, but nature has gotten back at me by having terrible allergies all year. This book was absolutely brilliant. It was beautiful to look at [even on my Kindle!] and my friend has it on her shelf and it’s even more beautiful. It seems very Victorian and almost esoteric nowadays to read a book abut plants but the stories told by Stewart about all of the plants were great. Some plants are obviously more dangerous than others and her talk of citrus fruit will not keep me away from limes and lemons but it’s just all so fascinating.

Also there is something that feels really nostalgic about all of it. I think that often we don’t actually read an encyclopedia – people just use Wikipedia. Reading about a subject with stories, beautiful images that I think are originally copper etchings [at least that's what my printmaking past tells me], random factoids, and ultra stuff Latin names is really a joy. Plus it’s also pretty great that the subtitle is, “The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” It just makes it all seem so exciting and full of intrigue somehow.

3,900 people are injured annually by electrical outlets while 68,847 are poisoned by plants.

With crazy facts like this I think you’ll really enjoy picking up this book. She has a followup called Wicked Bugs that I’ll have to get my paws on soon to see if it’s as engrossing.

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