Profile for Jolene > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Jolene
Top Reviewer Ranking: 6,747
Helpful Votes: 106

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Jolene (Scotland)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13
pixel
Dying Light (Logan McRae, Book 2)
Dying Light (Logan McRae, Book 2)
Price: £3.80

3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars, 20 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
3.5 Stars. The second in the DI Logan books I've read, and this was pretty much as good as the first. My only quibble was with Logan's personal life, and not either the murder bit or the policing bit. In the first book, I liked that the author resisted the temptation to give Logan some clichéd macho traits. In this story, in his relationship with fellow cop Jackie, Logan comes over as a bit tediously stereotypically male - hating going shopping, for example. Though this was a minor part of the book, every time we saw Logan and Jackie together, it kind of grated with me. I really hope he goes back to being more empathetic in the next book - which I'll definitely be reading.

But I'm not wanting to detract from the main body of the book. Well-written, fast-paced, full of interesting characters (though actually, now I write this, can I just say that I found Logan's boss's lack of personal hygiene just a wee bit overdone), and a really nice complex mix of cases. Very enjoyable read


Lady Worsley's Whim: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce
Lady Worsley's Whim: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce
by Hallie Rubenhold
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A reminder of just how far we have come, 20 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The treatment that history has doled out to women never fails to astound me - and to get me bristling with both anger and ideas. Not two hundered years yet since the Married Women's Property Act finally allowed us to own heritable property in our own names, and considerably less than that since the law decided that women could divorce their husbands on the same grounds. In Lady Worsley's time, there was no such thing as divorce without an Act of Parliament - and that wasn't open to her to pursue. So when she finally decided to leave her husband for her current lover (one of a long string, it must be said), she had to leave it up to her deserted spouse to sort out the mess. Thwarted, mortified and vengeful, hubby decided not to grant her a divorce, and sued her lover for 'criminal conversation' effectively trespass - and damages of the enormous sum of £20,000.

Lady Worsley is not a likable character, but then neither is her husband nor her lover - and all of that is irrelevant. She's a woman who ran from a loveless and probably pretty horrible marriage, in the hopes of setting up in a new life with a man she did love, and the child of that relationship - the other child remained the 'property' of her husband. But then the law and her husband start to take their revenge, and Lady Worsley has to defend her corner. She does so in an admirably unconventional way, but in protecting her lover, basically puts herself up to be vilified, and her character forever stained - she is, by society's standers, nothing more than a whore.

Does she lie down and roll over? No, she does not. She takes up with a load of other similarly placed women and uses the press to attack her husband. You can't blame her, it's all she could do, but you can't help but judge her too. She becomes a nasty piece of work, she lowers herself to her husband's level (and I'm not forgetting here, that she's been lowered way beneath that already) and she makes everyone involved thoroughly miserable - not least, I imagine, herself. But the thing I keep coming back to is that she had little choice. And so while I wouldn't have liked her much, I really, really admire her. WTG Lady W, I just wish you'd had more success.

Imprisoned in revolutionary France, reunited with her family, married to a man young enough to be her son when her husband finally pops his clogs, Lady Worsley led an adventurous but very unhappy life - and it wasn't her fault! That's it. that's what I keep coming back to. The law and society condemned her far more than her own lack of judgement and profligacy. When I wrote Rumours that Ruined a Lady, with a heroine stuck in a cruel marriage and no means of escape, I hadn't read this book. I knew how biased the law was, I knew a little of how much my heroine (and by association her hero) had to lose - but I severely under-estimated it. Lady Worsley's story has made me want to write another, much stronger heroine, to expose the sheer horror of what women in this situation had to endure - and most of them did not react as Lady Worsley did, most of them rolled over into celibate obscurity.

Lady Worlsey's story is a reminder of just how far we've come. We shouldn't take it for granted.


The Devil in the Marshalsea
The Devil in the Marshalsea
Price: £3.66

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellently dark, Hogarthian mystery with a highly unusual setting, 20 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really enjoyed this, and I'm delighted to see there's a follow up, which I'll definitely be reading.

Set in the 1720s, this book shows us Hogarth's London, of Rookeries and gin shops, cut purses and coffee houses, a world where you'll do anything to survive, where morality is a very subjective matter indeed, and where life is very, very cheap. Our main protagonist Tom is a rake and a gambler, but he's rather cleverly also the moral compass for this story because at heart Tom is that rare thing in this book, an honourable man. He's been living on the edge for a while, but finally his luck runs out, and he ends up in the Marshalsea debtor's prison in the Borough (of Southwark, a long shot from the trendy market place it is now).

Ms Hodgson captures the atmosphere in the prison brilliantly. It's not just the conditions, the split between the two sides of the prison (the ones who can pay to upgrade and the ones who can't), but the treatment meted out to all, and above all - the smells. she doesn't shy away from the smells, and it struck me, reading this, how many people actually do when writing about this period. And it must have stank! Not for the squeamish or the faint-hearted mind you, and I wouldn't advise reading it over lunch, this book evokes the horror of life in a debtor's prison like nothing else I've read, fiction or fact.

But it's not just about the Marshalsea, there's a murder at the centre of the book that Tom has to solve in order to escape. With every twist and turn, we discover more about the corruption and inner-workings of the prison, where money is all, and justice doesn't exist. We learn that the web of corruption spreads up from the prisoners through the chain of command, to the turnkeys and the trusties, to the governor, then out to the court system and ultimately to the Marshal. All benefit from the suffering. It's in their interests to keep it going.

Unlike a lot of books I've read recently, this one held my attention right to the end. My only carp is with the detail of the ending, however. There's a few plot twists that come out to do with Tom and how he ended up in the prison which I thought were a bit contrived in how they were revealed, and a stretch too far in believing them. I felt that they were done to put Tom in a better light, almost, and I didn't think that was necessary. I'm not saying that the plot twists shouldn't have been there, only that they didn't have to be quite so black and white - I know, this won't make sense unless you've read it.

But that's me being picky. I highly recommend this book, it's a brilliant story, an amazingly evocative setting, and I loved it.


The Hourglass Factory
The Hourglass Factory
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suffragettes, suggragists, corsets and scandal - oh yes, and a trapeze artist too, 20 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Would the various suffragist women's movements have won the vote without World War One? Tricky one, and we'll never know, but the War and women's contribution to it is popularly portrayed in a positive light, while much of what the suffragettes did in the years immediately prior to 1914 is deemed negative, and sadly, the more spectacular stunts aside, often forgotten. The Hourglass Factory brings these years, and these woman, and their cause to the forefront, and does that difficult thing, gives us a brilliant lesson in history while telling an enthralling story.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a history book, it's very much a novel, with an excellent murder mystery and some brilliantly colourful characters at the centre. Frankie reminded me a little of a Sarah Waters' character in Night Watch - and I'd really like to know more of her, so I hope there's a follow up. Then there's Millie, aristo turned snake charmer, there's Liam, a very far from endearing street urchin, and there's Inspector Primrose, another character I'd like to see more of. And lurking behind it all, the mysterious trapeze artiste Ebony Diamond. I'm not going to summarise the twisted and complex plot, but there's corsets, there's perversions, there's politics, there's skulduggery and there's lots and lots of London landscape.

My only gripe would be that the history does intrude a little bit too much on the story at times - but only a little. There's times when the political message becomes a little strident, and takes up page room, away from the characters - as I said, I'd like to have got to know Frankie more. But this is a minor gripe. And there's a very good reason for the intrusion of history - it's shocking. Not even a hundred years since women were awarded the vote, we find it almost incredible that there was a time when they were disenfranchised. The violence that the likes of the WSPU embraced in the years immediately before the war can't be condoned, but can it really be criticised? These women were so unbelievably frustrated at not being listened to. They were mocked and sidelined, they were imprisoned and force fed, and they kept coming back again and again. I'd love to think I would have been one of them, but I'm not sure I'd have had the guts.

This is a really great read - and don't be misled by my comments on the history, it's a novel, and an entertaining and well-written one, so please do give it a go. I'll definitely be looking out for this writer's next book.


Deadly Engagement: A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery Book 1)
Deadly Engagement: A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery Book 1)
Price: £2.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, witty Goergian romp with a fantastic cast of characters I want to see more of, 20 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was recommended to my by two friends, and I am so glad that I listened. I loved this, and I'm delighted to discover that Lucinda Brant has not only written another one, but she's got a backlist for me to read too.

What did I love? Firstly, the Georgian time period in all its Hogarthian glory. It's bawdy, it's a time of fascinating politics, of outrageous clothes, of dirt and grime and drink and excess and poverty, and Lucinda Brant gives us a whiff of it all. Then I loved the characters - and there were lots of them, and the fact that they got lots of 'on stage' time along with Alec, the main man. Loved Uncle Plant in particular, and I'm keen to see more of the shadowy apothecary's apprentice, Tam. Then I loved the wit. So often in period romances (and I know this isn't only a romance) there's no humour. Lucinda Brant does great humour, her characters are witty, and the situations they find themselves in often almost slaptstick funny. I kept wishing this had been made into a film, though only one I could see after I'd read the book of course. Oh yes, and then there was the mystery - complicated, and unravelled a bit to fast at the end, but nice and tangled up and with lots of potential for some of the threads to come back and haunt Alec in the next book. I'm not going to say what I thought of Alec except - whoah!

Excellently entertaining, witty, clever and really well-written book, highly recommended. And I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.


The Bed I made
The Bed I made
Price: £4.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Psychological Study, 20 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Bed I made (Kindle Edition)
3.5 stars, I think because I gave it four on my first read and 3 on my second. This was a re-read for me, and I'd say it was 3.5 stars. It's the sort of book that works better when you don't remember the plot, and sadly I remembered too much of it, and I'm sure that detracted from my enjoyment (I gave it 4 stars previously). It's a good story, it's well-written, it's suspenseful and it kept me turning the pages, but I have to say that it did fall a bit flat. I think partly that was to do with the first person narrator, who began to get on my nerves a bit. There were loads and loads of opportunities for her to talk to her best friend, and therefore to prevent what happened in the end, but she didn't take them - and it jarred on me when she didn't because I did feel that it was a plot device, all the postponing, rather than 'real'. I think the other thing I didn't like was that she was so passive - she didn't even collect evidence such as the emails she got - and again, that kind of jarred on me. I do know that the point was she was afraid, and that she just wanted to hope against hope that it wasn't happening to her, but there came a point (for me as a reader) when she just should have admitted it and dealt with it.

All a bit vague if you've not read this, but I didn't want to give anything away. This sounds more negative than I felt because it focuses on what didn't work, but as I said, I liked it enough to read a second time, and I did enjoy it, so don't let me put you off.


The Girl in the Photograph
The Girl in the Photograph
Price: £3.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, Haunting, and a Great Story, 20 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, which was another two-in-one connected story. This time the connection between the narrator in 1932 and the other story in the 1890s really worked for me - it didn't seem contrived, and it wasn't all based on one of those unbelievable coincidences. Two pregnant women, each with different fears for their child, each in their own way estranged from the child's father, and staying in the same place 40 years apart. The mystery of what happened to Elizabeth (the 1890s story) is unfolded slowly, and really does keep you turning the pages, but equally, the front-story characters were interesting, empathetic, and not like some of these time-slip stories, simply there to support the back story.

I had a couple of minor gripes - but they really were minor. Firstly, I did feel that with only forty years since the back story events took place, it was a bit unbelievable that no-one would either tell the truth or even knew the truth. And secondly, in the front story, much was made at the start of the lack of letters from a friend, Dora. Enough to flag it up as an issue and make you wonder if something sinister was going on. And then in the end, it was nothing. I felt a bit disappointed (I told you they were minor gripes).

Really enjoyable story, and though I think the author has written only one other book, I'll definitely be looking for it.


The State We're In
The State We're In
Price: £3.61

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this - until the ending, 24 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
was enjoying this, it was a solid 3 right up until the last third of the book, and then - disaster. Too many coincidences, way too much exposition and neat realisations, and an ending that I absolutely HATED. Really, really hated. But not as much as I hated the Epilogue.

It's a real shame, because I liked the characters, I liked that the author didn't run away from them being in some ways unlikable, in some ways behaving badly, and most importantly when it came to Eddie, not redeeming him on his deathbed. That took guts. Oh well, there was enough for me to hope that I'll like others by this author, so I'll be trying again.


Necessary Lies
Necessary Lies
Price: £1.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loved, loved, loved, 24 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Necessary Lies (Kindle Edition)
4.5 stars. Highly recommended, I couldn't put this down, and I'm not sure if my overall impression was more sadness or horror.

Set primarily in the early 1960s, the two main charactrs (though there are lots of others) are a newly-married idealistic but naïve social worker, and a fifteen year old white girl who worked on a tobacco plantation. The connection between them is strong, but the social worker holds the young girl's life in her hands. I didn't know about the eugenics programme which forms the core of the plot line of this book, but there's lots of information about it in the author note at the end. It is shocking. Really, truly, horrific. And it really happened. The author makes the point that this case is toned down, deliberately 'ordinary' when she could have used much worse samples. I was so angry, and I was son upset reading this. And the fact that it was portrayed so believably made it harder to take.

Don't get me wrong though, this isn't a political book - well, not only. It's a really good story with really fascinating characters. Your heart goes out to them, but the lines are not so easily drawn either. There's rules broken that shouldn't have been. There's lots of unanswered ethical questions. And at the heart of it, a study of two really fascinating characters.

Loved this.


The Shadowy Horses
The Shadowy Horses
Price: £4.68

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but a bit dated, 24 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a second read for me, and I must confess I was a bit disappointed. It started really well with a fab setting in Eyemouth, where my favourite painter John Bellany came from. The usual kin of Susannah Kearsley set up, with the past intruding on the present in some way - this time in the form of the ghost of a Roman sentinel. It was a good story, it was well-written as ever, but two things jarred for me. Firstly, the use of the Scots idiom was way over the top. A few examples were fine, but they kept popping up and being explained just a bit too much, and began to seem quite patronising. Second, the narrator, Verity and her 'romance' with Davy. She is attractive, she's clever, she's obviously had no shortage of men, but she's always put her career first. Then she meets Davy, and despite the fact that he is restrained to the point where you want to give him a kicking in terms of showing interest, she throws everything over and decides he's the man for her. There was no chemistry between them, so it felt just all wrong for me.

This is an older book of Ms Kearsley's, so perhaps it's just showing wear and tear, or perhaps for me it couldn't compete with the brilliance of The Winter Sea and Marianna. But needless to say, I'll be reading her next when it appears.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13