Reviews: Multiple Titles

As of this week, it is my hope to return to a weekly post.  I had hoped to have a write-up from the conference I attended and presented at ready for this week, but between travel and resting up after a busy few days, alas it is not to be.  I took too many notes to distill what I think needs covered in a post (or possibly two) in a little over a day of being home.  For now, let me say this much.  It was a magical experience.  I learned a lot, met interesting new people, and spent time with old friends and colleagues.  And my presentation went very well.  I posted the slides and outline on the Scrap Bag after the presentation if you’d like to take a look.  In the meantime, a few of my shorter book reviews.

The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Gosteady running of the hour cover

Scribner, 2014.  Hardcover, 466 pages.

The Steady Running of the Hour is a dual timeline books. It opens with the modern timeline starring Tristan Campbell. Tristan is informed that he may be the heir of a fortune and is summoned to London from California to learn more. He then embarks on a quest to find proof he is indeed the heir. The historic timeline follows Ashley Walsingham and Imogen Soames-Andersson, two star-crossed lovers who meet during World War I. While Ashley faces battle, Imogen deals with his absence. Eventually, they part ways and Imogen effectively disappears while Ashley, an avid mountain climber, travels and joins the 1924 Mount Everest Expedition.

I liked the premise of the book, but the pace is slow. So much of the book is filled with vivid descriptions, which were beautiful, that it left little room for driving the plot. While Imogen and Ashley’s story was touching, it did seem out of place for the era. It was one of those books I kept hoping would get better, but never did. Overall, the ending of the novel was anti-climactic.

I won a copy of The Steady Running of the Hour from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Eden in Winter by Richard North Pattersoneden in winter

Quercus, 2014.  Hardcover, 620 pages.

This book concludes the trilogy starting with Fall From Grace and Loss of Innocence.  After the suspicious death of author Benjamin Blaine, his family is under investigation for murder.  They have also been disinherited in favor of his pregnant mistress, Carlo Pacelli.  CIA operative Adam Blaine, who all think is Benjamin’s son, is trying his best to preserve his family.  He crafts the lie that save’s his real father and his brother.  He is also falling for Carla himself.  Throughout the books, readers see the struggle Carla has with the conflict and her pregnancy and Adam’s nightmares that may stem from PTSD.

I did not care for this book, but I don’t know how much of that stems from jumping straight into book three.  It may have helped to read the first two, however other reviews I read of Goodreads suggest otherwise.  I did not like how the first section had three different timelines going; it seems it would have been better to have each as its own chapter instead of all in each chapter.  Lastly, the relationships in the book were convoluted: Brothers who are also cousins, an uncle who is really the father, etc.  The book is filled with these and all but one are revealed in the first fifty or so pages.

I received a copy of this novel from Penguin Random House’s Library Services Department for review.

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinsontitanic voices of the disaster

Reviewed: Books on Tape, 2012.  Audiobook, 4 discs. Read by Mark Bramhall and Peter Altschuler.
Print:  Scholastic, 2012.  Hardcover or Paperback, 304 pages.

Titanic: Voices From the Disaster is an excellent resource for middle school students to learn about the disaster. Blending facts with excerpts from primary source documents into a spellbinding story, this book provides all the basic facts one needs to know about the disaster while adding a personalized touch as it follows selected passengers from all classes and crew members from before the ship sets sail through the aftermath. It think it would make a useful resource for children studying the disaster or to use parts for class assignments about the Titanic.

For this review, I listened to an audiobook copy provided by Penguin Random House’s Library Services Department. While the audio book was well-narrated, I felt the lack of pictures and diagrams that would have been in a physical book. If I was not already familiar with the ship’s layout from a diagram in another book I had, the description of the layout may have been a bit confusing to those new to the topic. And I missed having pictures to put a face with the name. However, these are my only complaint and it comes more from the fact I prefer print copies.


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