The Tuscan Child. Rhys Bowen. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library] First sentence: He was going to die, that was quite obvious. Premise/plot: Joanna Langley is on a quest to discover/uncover family secrets in this historical mystery by Rhys Bowen. The ...

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"Becky's Book Reviews" - 5 new articles

  1. World at War: The Tuscan Child
  2. Stars Upon Thars #37
  3. Max Tilt: Fire the Depths
  4. World at War: One Good Deed
  5. Georgian Check-In #5
  6. More Recent Articles

World at War: The Tuscan Child

The Tuscan Child. Rhys Bowen. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: He was going to die, that was quite obvious.

Premise/plot: Joanna Langley is on a quest to discover/uncover family secrets in this historical mystery by Rhys Bowen. The novel has two narrators: Hugo Langley in 1944/1945 and Joanna Langley in 1973. The book is set in England and Italy. After her father’s death (in 1973), Joanna discovers that there were many things in her father’s past that she was clueless about. She has an older half-brother, for example. Who knew that her father had been married twice?! Why did he never mention his ex-wife or. His son?! Who knew that he’d been shot down over Italy?! He never talked about his time there. But he did send a love letter to an Italian woman after the war. (It was returned unopened.) The letter mentions a child?! Could she have another half-brother?! She decides that she has to go to Tuscany to find out the truth for herself.

My thoughts: As often as I review novels with dual narratives you’d think I seek them out. Not so! I was drawn to this one because of the pilot of World War II aspect.

I will start with the good: I read it in one day. I cared enough about the unfolding mystery to keep reading one chapter after another.

Now for the bad...I was ultimately disappointed. I felt the title was tricksy. The build up is that she is on a quest to find a half-brother. She wants to find him and make a connection—reach out. If she can’t find him then she at least wants to find more truths—more clues indicating the kind of man her father was. The man she knew was distant, reserved, uninvolved, uncaring.

His narrative reveals a more passionate man who is in desperate conditions. He fears for his life; he is dependent on a super beautiful woman to keep him supplied with food and medicine. He is hiding out in an abandoned monastery. They share conversations and time. Could this be love?

How did this young man become that kind of father?!

I thought that Joanna’s narrative had too many mini-mysteries and sub-plots to work well. I felt like the book couldn’t make up its mind as to genre. Is it a drama? A mystery? A romance? Should it end with a couple embracing and pledging to love each other forever and ever? Should it end in a family reunion?

My favorite character was a friend she made in Tuscany, Paola.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Stars Upon Thars #37

5 Stars
One Good Deed. David Baldacci. 2019. 432 pages. [Source: Library]

4 Stars
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao. Kat Zhang. Illustrated by Charlene Chua. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Max Tilt: Fire the Depths

Max Tilt: Fire the Depths (Max Tilt #1) Peter Lerangis. 2017. HarperCollins. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Before the day he was abandoned, Max Tilt thought life was pretty much perfect.

Premise/plot: When Max’s mom gets sick, his parents leave him in the care of his older cousin, Alex, as they seek treatment out of town. The two (Max and Alex) soon discover that the parents have been horribly irresponsible. The electricity is turned off the second day, I think! The eviction notice has been served and is due to take effect within a week maybe two. Instead of contacting the parents (either Max or Alex’s), the two decide that by selling the contents of the home online and perhaps getting a part-time job they should be able to get the bills paid and stay in the home. One of the items they list brings trouble to their door! The item is an empty trunk that belonged to Jules Verne, THE Jules Verne. The two set out on a quest when they find a hidden text by Verne, the bad guys are never far behind. In fact, they end up keeping close company with the villains for most of the book. Can they best them by the end and get their hands on the lost manuscript?

My thoughts: I liked the premise of this one. Max and Alex are descendants of Jules Verne. They have inherited some of his things and discover a secret, hidden, mystery text. The descendants of Captain Nemo (or descendant) know about this mystery letter/manuscript and have been hunting for it. The two must battle it out in the book. Both claim that they want to save the world.

You have to suspend ALL your disbelief if you want to enjoy this one. It isn’t unusual for this sub genre. In fact it reminds me a bit of The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. Two kids without much—if any—adult support set out to save the world. But it wasn’t the adventure quest that had me stumbling. It was the parents leaving Max in such a horrible position. How could they knowingly leave their son knowing that the electric bill is overdue?! Knowing that other utilities will soon follow?! Knowing that the family will be evicted in a few weeks?! It sounds like they are skipping town and abandoning Max. How could they not know about their unpaid bills?! How could they leave knowing?!

Perhaps they expected Alex to take Max home with her?!

I also wondered how the two made it to New York City since both had no money....

But the book did keep me reading. I have plans to read the second book in the series.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

World at War: One Good Deed

One Good Deed. David Baldacci. 2019. 432 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was a good day to be free of prison.

Premise/plot: Aloysius Archer is out on parole; he’s been resettled in the small, rural town of Poca City. The community is small enough that everyone know everybody’s business. Ex-cons tend to stick out, but Archer isn’t like other ex-cons. He was innocent of the crime he was convicted of. He is determined to stay out of trouble that might lead him back to prison. In addition to being fresh out of prison, Archer is a war veteran. The novel is set in 1949. America—Archer included—is still very much impacted by the war. One doesn’t simply forget the war and jump back effortlessly into “normal“ life.

So on his first day in town he picks up an unusual job. He is collect the collateral of a debt. Both men—the one who made the loan and the one who took out the loan—are unsavory chaps. Neither man seems “good”. Both seem super dangerous and unreasonable. But he is desperate for a job and this one pays $100. Will accepting this job be the biggest mistake of his life? Will he escape with his life?

My thoughts: I love, love, love historical fiction. I love, love, love mystery novels. When an amateur detective happens to love reading detective novels...I find it giddy making. So much of this one was just happy making. It was a compelling and suspenseful read. But it wasn’t so much about the destination—at least for me. It was every step of the journey. I hope this is the start of a new series. I want to spend more time with Archer!

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Georgian Check-In #5

  •    What books for this challenge have you read (or reviewed) recently?
    •    What are you currently reading?
    •    Are there any quotes you'd like to share?
    •    Who would you recommend? Anyone you would NOT recommend?
    •    Favorite book you've read so far...

I haven't finished reading any Georgian books since the last update.

I am STILL reading Cecilia by Fanny Burney. I suppose I shouldn't have put Pride and Prejudice on hold to help me "focus" more on Burney!!! I do still plan on finishing my reread of P&P.

I don't think there are any quotes to share. The writing has turned dense and not at all quotable. (Unlike Austen.)

If you've never read Burney before...don't start with Cecilia.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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