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Book Review: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

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The House at RivertonThe House at Riverton by Kate Morton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate Morton came into my life just under 3 years ago. I don’t remember how, but I picked up one of her books and absolutely fell in love with her writing style, characters, and multi-dimensional storytelling abilities. After almost 3 years, I’ve finished reading all 6 of her books; it’s a tad amusing that the last one I read is actually the first book she wrote — The House at Riverton, or The Shifting Fog, as it was previously known. For me, she’s the queen of historical fiction when the focus is on ‘ordinary’ families in a world from ~ a century ago. The House at Riverton is no exception, and while not my favorite of her tomes, is quite a splendid novel very reminiscent of Downtown Abbey.

In this book, Grace is ~100 years old and dying very soon. She has a story and a secret about the past to tell her wayward grandson who’s gone missing after his wife died of an aneurysm. Through flashbacks and other POVs, we learn about Grace’s time as a maid and ladies maid in the Hartford family household. We witness conversations in the current period between Grace and Ursula, a film director telling the story of what happened when a family friend and renowned poet committed suicide in the 1920s at the Hartford estate. We find out who actually loved whom, and which family members shouldn’t have been trusted. All set against the gorgeous backdrop of the English countryside, it’s a powerful and emotional tale about fighting your desires and knowing when it’s time to give in.

One of the things that made this book so appealing is how similar it was to Downton Abbey. There’s a family torn apart by war. Girls cannot inherit their father’s estate. Love between classes is forbidden. Estates cost too much. A daughter must marry into a wealthy family to survive. But then it goes off on its own path with a murder, an affair, and a past indiscretion connecting two people who never knew until it was too late. Morton can weave the most elaborate stories to warm the heart. I feel such passion and connection with her words and imagery. I can think of no other author who evokes such lyrical enthusiasm and despair in a scene on multiple levels that overwhelm you and excite you at the same time.

While a majority of this book is amazing, there were a few areas that I struggled with… hence 4 stars. The beginning is a bit too slow; it takes time to develop characters, but Morton uses a few different techniques to foreshadow what’s to come in the future almost crossing that invisible line with audience. For example, there’s a paragraph ending a chapter that actually speaks to readers saying, “You think she should have done this, but no, instead, she does this… and this is why what happens to her later was so painful.” I paraphrased to not give away any spoilers, but you get the basics. Another concern I had was how certain storylines were left too open-ended for my taste. We know two characters re-connect 40 years later, but how / why. We know there was a blood relationship between two characters, but was it ever acknowledged? We know one character leaves a letter to another, but what happened with the gift she also left behind? Who was Lady Clementine and how did she fit into this family?

Some of those were loosely explained, but with a powerhouse like Morton, I expect everything to be properly tied together. I’m okay with vague, but there needs to be some clarity on what the ‘options’ are as opposed to just making a statement and never exploring the follow-thru aspects. That said, this doesn’t happen in her later books, so I think these were debut author style changes… and definitely ones I’m glad she eventually made. All said, it’s a must read. The book is slower than others, with less of a major climax, but fully immersive and extravagant in other ways. I am sad that it’ll be at least another year before her next one…

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

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Ever since I read my first book by Kate Morton, I’ve been keen to read all her others. This month I went with The Secret Keeper since I tend to love books where there’s a secret buried somewhere that must come out despite every intent to bury it years ago. I was thrilled with the novel and can’t wait to take on the next one.

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The book takes place over a period of ~60 years focusing for the most part on Dorothy (Dolly) and daughter Laurel. We see snapshots of their lives while Laurel tries to unravel the mystery of a childhood incident where she’s certain she saw her mother stab a stranger. We see the perspective of a few other characters who interacted with Dolly when she was younger, as well as Laurel’s three sisters and one brother. It all comes together in a surprising conclusion where readers are forced to decide how we feel about an event that can be seen from many different angles.

Morton is the best at weaving together a story full of so many different side stories, you can never tell which will be the significant one to change the entire ending or plot arc to capture your shock. As this one moved along, I enjoyed the lyrical prose, tense dialog, well-drawn characters, and thrilling descriptions. About 75% through, when I thought I’d figured most of it out, I was feeling a bit disappointed. It was good, but that shock factor didn’t emerge as powerfully as I’d hoped. A few chapters later, in the most unusual place, I thought I saw an error. I re-read the passage twice, then realized — Oh, here’s that crazy twist! And what a fantastic one it was. 🙂

At that point, my opinion on the book shot up from a 4 to a 4.5. I would love to give it 5 stars, and it’s close, but there were a few moments of repetition and slowness that held me back. By no means did it make me want to put it down and wait days before reading again. It just didn’t force me to stay up super late… but that’s okay, sleep is needed, too. Overall, the story is very enthralling on many levels. You’ve got a backdrop of war, then modern social media times. You’ve got a mother who might or might not be lying or be a killer. As you read the historical portions, you can’t decide which of two girls is the one to believe. It keeps you going to the point you almost think they’re both lying, but which is the most pertinent among all the confusion?

Above all the plot and story, the settings are among the most gorgeous and captivating as any I’ve ever read before. Morton can describe the simplest things in the most complex terms, but it still makes me yearn for more. I never think “ugh, she’s completely overdone it,” but there are times when I would be okay with a few less words if it’s not ultimately important to the detail of the story. It’s a fine line, and in 98% of the cases, she’s spot on.

If you’ve never read her work, this is a good one, but I’d start with The Forgotten Garden then come to this one. I’ve two more left to read of hers, then I’ll probably have to wait a year for the next to be published. Oh well… sometimes patience is a good thing.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Mersey Killing by Brian L. Porter

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Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to download the fourth book in the Mersey Murder Mysteries by Brian L. Porter. I enjoyed the book a great deal, and so, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning of the series and read them in order, starting with A Mersey Killing: When Liverpool Rocked, And The Music Died. Porter has kicked off a fantastic collection of novels involving the various detectives and police beginning with Detective Inspector Andy Ross and Sergeant Izzie Drake. If you’re a fan of British crime fiction and methodical investigation, you’re sure to love these books.

In this series debut, a body is found in the Mersey River. It’s often difficult to obtain clues when the water can wash away evidence, but what about if the body has been there for over 35 years? Izzie and Ross have their work cut out for them, but as readers, we’re privileged to know a little bit more. Porter’s weaved alternating time periods in this story by showing us what happened in the past to a group of Liverpool musicians in the 1960s. As we get to know about 6 to 8 talents, we wonder… which one falls prey to a killer? As the story unfolds, we learn who it is, but there’s also someone else missing, too. Did they escape to America to form a band? Are they hiding out from someone dangerous? Izzie and Ross solve the case but not before tearing apart a family who’s been devastated one too many times in the past.

Porter’s a definite talent. While his books are mysteries with a touch of suspense, love and thrills, they often wisely focus on the relationships between characters as the catalyst to drive the story. Whether it’s getting to know the current day investigators, the past musicians, or who they’ve all become today, the plot and writing forces readers to care about what’s happening to everyone. We see them going thru their days on all levels — sometimes focused on the investigation, sometimes dealing with a personal issue. As the stories all begin to intersect, we begin to develop our own instincts as to who’s guilty of murder and who’s guilty of leading us astray.

Porter’s style is very strong, clear and direct. His main investigator team works with different departments to determine the murder weapon, to check passports from 35 years ago, and to learn how to interpret clues that no longer make sense. We see the leads meet with their colleagues and form their own opinions, but hold back a bit of reserve knowing they haven’t unearthed everything they still need to know. And when it all comes to a crashing finale, we worry whether the punishment fits the crime. That’s the sign of a good storyteller — to make us think critically.

Kudos to Porter for proving why building the right characters and setting can lead to a very promising and worthy book series. I’m looking forward to picking up the next one this fall… and getting invested in a series with 5 books already in the author’s pocket. I’m sure there will be more just as sure as I am that I’ll love them all!

 

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: A Mersey Mariner by Brian L. Porter

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It is very rare that I will read a book in the middle of a series, but sometimes it isn’t easily avoidable – that’s what happened in the case of A Mersey Mariner written by Brian L. Porter and published in 2017. As the 4th book in the Mersey mystery series, it fell into my lap when I saw a free download opportunity last month on Amazon. I’d previously read a few things about the author and his work seemed quite appealing, but I was overloaded with books on my TBR and couldn’t go back to book number one. At the same time, the plot was very intriguing and I wanted to read it while on my trip to Italy last month, so I pushed myself to take a chance on a mid-series read. All I can say is I am both glad and sad because I really wish I’d started at the beginning. I like the series so much I do plan to read them all and would have loved to watch the growth and beauty with each successive book. Oh well, I can always read it again, right?
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First things first… it’s a classic murder mystery containing British detectives with a bit of an ode or homage to an Agatha Christie novel – a joke is even cracked by one of the main characters, which made me laugh out loud for a few moments. In this edition, the detectives are summoned to a ship nearing port in England because they’ve stumbled upon a dead passenger. It’s no ordinary ship given it’s an old-style cargo liner, carrying a small group of passengers, and in this case, it’s quite eclectic when you start to unravel each person’s façade. Kudos to the author for creating such intricate characters, hidden identities and murky potential red herrings. It’s a true mystery fan’s ideal novel given all the plot twists, clever arcs and details… think of it as peeling away the skin on an onion only to find there are so many layers, it’s never quite what it seems. All in a challenging, precise and connective manner. Truly, Poirot would be a perfect confidante to these detectives for a quick call to get some advice on the suspects, but alas, it takes place in a bit of a more modern time, so that wouldn’t work.

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You’ll travel from Britain to the Amazon jungle in this tale, covering industrial espionage, secret identities, money laundering, drugs, scary diseases with interesting cures, a bit of romance, witty banter between the detectives (male and female, which makes it all the more fun!), and curiously unusual actions that leave you thinking it’s a straight-forward case – no, wait, it’s totally complex and I’ll never figure it out! But the detectives do, and that’s what makes it quite an enjoyable read. As readers, you learn the clues just as the detectives do, stumbling and wading through lies, the truth and misleading statements. I’m never quite sure which people to trust, but I find myself tightly connected to the personalities wanting to solve this case. That makes for good drama and mystery, and it has a satisfying conclusion.

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I learned so much about police procedures, shipping rules, international water policies and ship design – in a good way, quite interesting but never overwhelming. The scenery and descriptive components were vivid and painted a picture I felt like I was standing right next to. I’m very curious to read more of Porter’s novels and will be looking at his literary works later this year to plot out a few more reads both in this series and in some of his other books. See more on my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com where I will be adding some additional content to this review about the author, his books and upcoming cover releases. What a great find! If you’re a mystery fan who enjoys a good British setting with some adventures across the globe, you’ll find yourself quite intrigued and enamored.

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And a peek into the next book in the series, published just last month!
A VERY MERSEY MURDER EBOOK COMPLETE

A Personal Message from the Author

First of all, I’d like to thank you, Jay, for your wonderful review of the 4th book in my Mersey Mystery series, A Mersey Mariner. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book, and hope you’ll eventually read the rest of the series. Being part of an old Liverpool family, the series means a lot to me, as most of the central characters who feature in each book are based on members of my own family, based on my recollection of them from my younger days, as nowadays I live in the neigh boring county of South Yorkshire in the UK. Readers might not be aware that I write under three different names. Most of my books including all my novels and my remembrance poetry collection Lest We Forget are written as Brian L Porter, my children’s books are written as Harry Porter, and my best selling collection of romantic poetry is penned by Juan Pablo Jalisco.

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Though the Mersey Mysteries all revolve around the cases of the fictional, Merseyside Police Specialist Murder Investigation team, some of the books have a very international theme, as you have discovered in A Mersey Mariner, as their cases take them as far afield as locations in Germany, Canada, Brazil and others. This is not the case with the most recent in the series as A Very Mersey Murder sees the team investigating a case very much on home turf, as they go in search of a serial killer who is working to a strict timetable, giving them only one week to prevent him from killing again.

Mersey Mysteries2.June2018

The series is really an homage to the city and people of Liverpool, which I remember so fondly from my youth. I have been writing for over twenty years and always wanted to set a book in the city but never had the courage until three years ago. I feared I wouldn’t be able to do the city justice, but after the first book, A Mersey Killing was so well received, I gained the confidence, following some encouragement from my publisher and some great reviews, to embark upon writing more books featuring Detective Inspector Andy Ross and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Clarissa (Izzie) Drake and the rest of the team.

As the series has progressed, the characters have ‘grown’ and developed and many readers now contact me to tell me who their favorite characters are and actually taking an interest in their ‘lives’ almost as though they were real people. Perhaps the series is developing into a kind of literary soap opera. If it is, I just hope it runs and runs! I currently have a total of ten books planned for Ross and the team and having completed the first five, I am about to begin work on book 6, Last Train to Lime Street. For your American readers, who may not be familiar with British institutions and place names, Lime Street is Liverpool’s major railway station, which you could perhaps think of as being as well known here in the UK as New York’s Grand Central is in the States.

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For a sneak peek, read a brief preview

As the late night train from Manchester to Liverpool, Lime Street approaches the outskirts of Liverpool it hits the body of a man under a bridge. When the police are called it transpires the man was a well known movie director… of pornographic films. They have to discover first of all whether he was dead before he hit the tracks, not easy given the damage caused by the locomotive. As Andy Ross and his team investigate they find the man’s list of enemies is almost as long as the railway line from Manchester to Liverpool. Is his murder personal or professional? How was he killed, again not easy when they have a mangled body on their hands. Oh yes, and the victim was American, with three disgruntled ex-wives, all of whom have a motive for murder. Ross, Drake and the team have a real international headache on their hands as they attempt to solve the case of the Last Train to Lime Street!

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About the Author

With over twenty years of writing experience I have over twenty novels, true-life, poetry and short story collections to my name including, my international bestseller Sasha, the true story of the life of my incredible rescue dog of that name, who has become something of an icon for epileptic dogs around the world.

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I’ve been fortunate to record 15 Amazon bestsellers so far, including all the books in the Mersey Mystery series, A Mersey Killing, All Saints, Murder on the Mersey, A Mersey Maiden and A Mersey Mariner, and also The Nemesis Cell, Purple Death, Behind Closed Doors, Avenue of the Dead, and my second dog rescue book, Sheba: From Hell to Happiness, the story of another of our eleven rescue dogs who was saved from her previous life as a bait dog, for the training of fighting dogs, and more.

My books have also won a number of awards over the years and currently, A Mersey Maiden, is among the nominations for the TCK Publishing Readers Choice Awards, 2018. If any of your readers would be kind enough to vote for me, all they need to do is visit https://www.tckpublishing.com/2018-readers-choice-voting-page/ and scroll through to the Mystery section, select A Mersey Maiden and follow the simple voting instructions.

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When I’m not writing, my wife and I are both involved in caring for our wonderful family of eleven rescue dogs. We are both dedicated to dog rescue and I have separate Facebook pages involving Sasha and Sheba, the two most well-known of our dogs. My own Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/harry.porter.12139862 where I write as Harry Porter.

Anyone wishing to learn more about my works is cordially invited to visit my website at http://www.brianlporter.co.uk

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Or my Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Brian-L.-Porter/e/B00466KITC/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

You can find all the book in the Mersey Mystery series at https://www.amazon.com/Brian-L.-Porter/e/B00466KITC/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

I also have a blog at https://sashaandharry.blogspot.com/

 

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Review: Rappaccini’s Daughter

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Rappaccini's DaughterBook Review
3+ of 5 stars to Rappaccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” many characters suffer from moral ambiguity. Thus, readers of this story often have a hard time discerning which characters are “good” and which ones are “evil.” Hawthorne specifically creates these twists in his masterpiece “Rappaccini’s Daughter” to provide his readers with mysterious, dramatic, and multi-dimensional characters who are never strictly good or solely evil. When characters are strictly one-sided, readers automatically feel hatred or love for the characters, and the story’s plot becomes predictable.
If the plot of a story becomes predictable, then the entire story becomes dull and flat. This predictability occurs as a result of characters with one-sided and insipid personalities. Eventually, readers know exactly what to expect, and are not happy when there are no big surprises or sneaky twists. However, when an author creates characters who have both good and evil qualities, (s)he produces a mind-blowing story in which there is no predicting what the characters will do or how the story will end. For example, in “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” Baglioni says and does many different things that send chills up the readers’ spines. Although Baglioni is gentle and kind when he gives an antidote to Giovanni, he is not completely innocent. He has an extreme hatred for Beatrice and her father Rappaccini. Baglioni feels that the two garden dwellers are extremely corrupt people who are only in Padua to destroy the society. When Hawthorne creates these two sides to Baglioni, making him a pivotal part of the action, he shows that almost anything could happen in the story. It isn’t as if Baglioni is simply a kind old man who would do anything for his fellow man; Baglioni could do anything from breaking into a murderous outrage to leaving Giovanni suffer the consequences for pursuing Beatrice without the knowledge of who she is really. However, readers are thrown a very unpredictable ending where Baglioni is concerned. After his antidote has killed Beatrice, Baglioni shouts out “in a tone of triumph mixed with horror,” which shows that he feels both victorious over the supposedly evil Rappaccini and scared that he has killed a woman. This ending raises many questions: Did Baglioni purposely try to end the curse by killing Beatrice? Was his antidote an accidental death for the poor woman? Was it a combination of both fear and hope in Baglioni’s mind? The turbulent description of Baglioni leaves the readers wondering who he really is, which in turn, makes the readers then wonder how the story will end. There is no foreshadowing in the story about Baglioni being the one to give the antidote to Beatrice, either saving her or killing her. The shady areas of his character help give the plot an aura of mystery so that the story is unpredictable. Hawthorne purposely intends to challenge the readers as to which characters are good and which are evil so that he can hold their attention, keep them guessing and keep them thirsting for more.
When Hawthorne challenges his readers about the characters’ virtues, he takes advantage of the opportunity to give the characters multi-faceted layers, thus creating more than one-side to their views on good and evil. However, with one-dimensional personalities, characters tend to do the same thing all the time. If they are totally evil, then the readers most likely hate the characters. On the other hand, the characters can also be extremely “good,” which annoys readers. Readers don’t particularly care for goody-two-shoes. Also, when a character thinks on the same track all the time, readers might begin to like that character and only root for him/her, all the while missing the point of the story. In “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” the characters of Rappaccini and Beatrice both trouble the audience. No one is one hundred percent positive of either of their innocence or their deception. As a result, readers are enthralled by the story, constantly in wonder as to whether Rappaccini planned the whole poisonous game. Also, Beatrice seems to have a shady side in which she is either in on the game or completely oblivious to it. “Hawthorne’s wife asked him how it would end, whether Beatrice was to be a demon or an angel? Hawthorne replies, with some emotion, ‘I have no idea!” (Mack 97). Even Hawthorne wasn’t sure until the end how he wanted the characters to turn out. In the end, one never knows. It’s up to an individual’s interpretation of “good” and “evil.”
When it comes to distinguishing between “good” and “evil” among the characters in Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” readers have difficulty. Hawthorne uses Beatrice, Baglioni, and Rappaccini to show how multi-faceted characters create suspenseful, dramatic, and enigmatic story. When a character is totally one-dimensional, readers often dislike them and the plot is unpredictable. Rita K. Gollin, a noted scholar, sums it up best by telling all Hawthorne readers that “he makes [his audience] probe beneath surface appearances and permits no simplistic judgments: characters are not simply good or bad but mixed. [Readers need to] evaluate them in terms of their interfusion of mind, heart, and imagination, and what they nurture or destroy” (Lauter 2115).

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

365 Challenge: Day 21 – English

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English: containing roots from England

We’ve concluded another week, and on this, the third 365 Challenge Sunday, it’s time to select one of the countries from which my ancestors hail. I’m about 33% English, though Ancestry says my DNA is 81% English; however, those numbers include Irish, and Scottish, which will be next week’s “end-of-the-week” post, thus covering my four primary heritages. But I’m pretty certain at least half of me hails from Great Britain when I look at all the records and the family genes. I am pretty pale, remember! My favorite English last name in my family history: Pantridge. So formal and eloquent.

I’ve been fascinated with the royal families and ascendancy to the thrones of England for years. At one point, I could name most of the Kings and Queens in order, but I’ve forgotten some of those details in recent years. I would love to find out that I descend from one of them, but I highly doubt it’s true. Perhaps Henry VIII’s court jester is my real ancestor!

And in keeping with tradition, I’ve located the Top 10 English traits… but this time, it’s according to the Metro UK news. Let’s see how I fare:

1. Talking about the weather

  • I do often use that as an easy line of conversation, given that I tend to be shy and quiet when it comes to conversing with others. I am fascinated by whether it will be warm or cold, rainy or dry. I hate, loathe and despise hot weather. I prefer the temperature to be a nice 50 degrees Fahrenheit. A good topic for another day!
  • Score: 1 out of 1.

2. Great at queueing

  • Yes! I love lines. It’s the most fair way to ensure those of us who arrive early don’t get left out when a crowd forms. My favorite place for a proper queue is at the airport, but it does not always happen. Each American airline (don’t get me started on other countries’ approach to the ticket counter) calls group by group to queue for an orderly on-boarding to the aircraft. EXCEPT, most Americans (of which I am one) are RUDE (not me, I am orderly). They all just run to the line even though their group hasn’t been called, and then orderly people like me have to ask people to move, step over all their luggage, blah blah blah. Get the @#*& out of my way is what I really want to say. Wait your turn. If you’re group 5, don’t stand right at the beginning of the line. Don’t be an @$$^&*%.  OK, rant done.
  • Score: 2 out of 2.

3. Sarcasm

  • I had a post dedicated to that… remember? Although, someone wise said I am probably more clever, so…perhaps not. But in general, I think the English are sarcastic like I am – never in a cruel way.
  • Score: 3 out of 3.

4. Watching soaps

  • Yes, I must confess. I used to watch a lot of soap operas when I was a teenager, not including prime time soaps. Let’s see if I can remember them: Loving (became The City), Another World, Days of Our Lives, As The World Turns and Guiding Light. I had lots of VCR tapes going while I was in school. And I also had 3 magazine subscriptions to keep me well read when not watching them on TV. Such a LOSER!!!!!
  • Special Kudos to anyone who can name the fake soap opera in the clip below.
  • Score: 4 out of 4.

5. Getting drunk

  • I remember covering this during the Irish post. Are all British drunks? Or is it really just everyone in the world at this point? Yikes. But no, I’m not a drunk. I drink but know when to stop on most occasions.
  • Score 4 out 5.

6. A love of bargains

  • No, definitely not me. I am careful with money, but I am not a bargain shopper. I like to get a discount, and I will usually balance quality and cost when making a purchase, but I always wonder “what’s wrong with this?” when it seems like a bargain.
  • Score: 4 out of 6.

7. A love of curtain twitching

  • I am stumped. What the… is curtain twitching? Let’s Google it……… OK, I’m back. OMG, I would not have guessed this. Seriously? OK, well curtain twitching is “a nosy person who watches his or her neighbours, typically from a curtained window.” AND it uses the British spelling in the word “neighbours.” Laughing so hard, I can only think of one thing. AbFab! Too bad they weren’t actually curtain twitching the neighours in the clip below. But yeah, I’m a little nosy sometimes. Remember curious?
  • Score 5 out of 7.

8. Stiff upper lip

  • Sometimes I do, sometimes I do not. I tend to be pretty strong, but not always. I’m gonna say yes to this one.
  • Score: 6 out of 10.

9. Love of all television

  • I watch TV almost every day. Besides reading, it’s the other hobby I have that involves sitting down a lot. 🙂
  • Score: 7 out of 9.

10. Always saying sorry

  • I used to do this ALL the time. I’m much better about it now, but if I get too close to someone and almost bump them, the first words out of my mouth are “I’m sorry.” It would never occur to me to say “excuse me” or “watch where you’re going!” I always assume it was my fault.
  • Score: 8 out of 10.

And what does this tell me?  I am emblematic of 80% of these things… and that matches the 81% noted above. How am I always so in sync with my DNA? Quite a stumper…

TV Show Review: The Crown

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5 stars to Netflix’s original series “The Crown,” episode 7: “Scientia Potentia Est,” about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign of the United Kingdom — the early years. I may have found a temporary, suitable replacement for “Downton Abbey.”

Story

A chronicle of the last days of King George VI before his unprepared daughter became Queen Elizabeth II. In episode #7, Elizabeth faces 3 primary obstacles: (1) Her own lack of formal education, (2) An inability to choose her own new private secretary and (3) Her government’s leading two men’s failure to inform her of their crippling illnesses.

Strengths

  1. The tone of the acting, the drama, the setting and the direction is strikingly mid-century British. Now, of course you’re thinking… it’s supposed to be you fool… and you’re right; however, it’s brilliantly assembled such that I don’t even mind when a few parts may be an exaggeration of the reality that took place. After all, how would anyone alive today know exactly what happened in the privacy of some of these conversations? And so… that’s why I find it enlightening! It feels exactly like what would have happened.
  2. Costumes and scenery are wonderful. Props are used in all the key places. And the actors seem quite comfortable in their roles.
  3. Winston’s comeuppance was amazing. I waited all episode for it to happen, and when it did, it came just short of where I wanted it to go… I wanted him to apologize. I wanted her to browbeat him. I wanted to hear the faltering in their relationship. But alas, that is not the British way, and so… I did not see it. Brilliant. It was all done in the facial expressions, the silence and the imagination. Loved it!
  4. How could her parents not properly educate her. I agreed with Elizabeth for confronting her mother… and then her mother’s drunken response was classic… she stated the simple truth. She didn’t know better. No one told her. How can you blame her? It suddenly felt so clear, and so sad… not just because she was a women but because she was not the expected heir at the time. Karma’s a bitch, though… so it comes racing back!
  5. The fight over her selection of the secondary back-up secretary to replace the current secretary instead of the primary back-up secondary… excellent plot. I too would have told them where to shove it. But there’s that tradition that she is so stuck on following despite her own needs.  Tough predicament. I feel like she and I would be good friends.

Suggestions

  1. I’m fearful with only 3 episodes left, we may only get to Elizabeth’s second set of pregnancies and still have another 50 years of non-aired history. I can hope for a season 2!

Final Thoughts

Yes, it’s less drama than Downton Abbey. And it’s based on reality which means it can be a bit of a repeat. But with such a fresh set of eyes and a look into years before my time, I am happily hooked and enjoy my new Sunday evening calm. All 10 episodes are available on Netflix, but I carefully watch one per week so savor each moment.  Check it out at:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5254162/?ref_=ttep_ep7.