The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

81cf8945-657a-4a23-9d91-690a90f184f9img400Dark and intriguing. All the stories that simultaneously run through this novel are fascinating and the way they all come together at the end really did surprise me. I did not expect a few of the twists that happened.
My favorite part of the novel though is the many elegant references to reading and the life of the reader. It is like a love letter to us (the reader) from the book itself for brining it life with our reading.
The only thing I both appreciated but also disliked was the wrap up at the end. I became a little exhausted hearing how everyone had faired. Sometimes to be left with a mystery at the end is not a bad thing.
4 of 5 stars

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The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl

8dc0135c-937b-4589-b830-109ae4746ec2img400Fans of Matthew Pearl “The Last Dickens” will be fond of his latest book “The Last Bookaneer” set to come out from Penguin Press April 28 2015. Briefly, in The Last Dickens we are introduced to a mysterious group of folks called bookaneers. These literary pirates risk life and fortune for the glory of capturing a prized manuscript from the most sought after authors. In the latest from award-winning Matthew Pearl, we see the last of the bookaneers battle it out in Samoa over the greatest treasure they have ever sought, the last novel from dying Robert Louis Stevenson.

Like all of Pearl’s work, The Last Bookaneer, is a literary thrill. From the first page to last I was riveted by the tale our narrators Mr. Fergins and Mr. Clover spun for the readers. We are taken to exotic places, meet influential authors and of course are given loving descriptions of literature and its effect on readers. Our characters are clever and well read. The plot has twists and turns that can surprise even the most rigorous of readers. And one can only imagine the amount of research that went into this novel. Every chapter is not only entertaining but also a lesson in literary and publishing history.

This novel is a must read for several types of readers; fans of Pearl, literary fiction, publishing history, Stevenson and the novel Frankenstein to name just a few. For this reader it is a volume that will be read many times and treasured as if it was the last manuscript seized by the last bookaneer.

Note: I received this book from the publisher to read and review. In no way did that effect the opinions in this review.

4 of 5 stars

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

The TechnologistsThe Technologists by Matthew Pearl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In my review of The Professor’s Assassin last month I stated that I was eagerly awaiting the release of Pearl’s new novel The Technologists and that from the preview that was included in The Professor’s Assassin it looked like it was going to be one of his best. Well needless to say I was not disappointed. Pearl delivers yet another page turner that had me guessing “who done it” until the very end.

The Technologists is set in Boston 1868 and starts with, of all things, seven shipwrecks. For those who do not know, currently me, my husband and super pup Maverick are on a sailboat sailing around the entire coast line of Florida. It was somewhat eerie to begin the book on a foggy and raining day while sitting on a boat only to discover that Pearl was painting a similar picture in his new novel. Besides the riveting poetic language from sentence number one I was hooked simply because I truly felt the picture being painted around me. But the mysterious disasters did not stop there. As the book progressed more unusual, seemingly hard to explain catastrophes were happening to Boston. The police force was at a loss for answers so they had to make the choice of turning to one of the two colleges in the area, Harvard or the new formed Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They choose to place their faith in the college that was not shocking the city with their “technologies” and sought the help of the professor of science from Harvard. Harvard’s science department unfamiliar and unwilling to accept the new way of looking at the world that was present in MIT was unable to adequately explain what had happened or what would happen next. It looked as though all was loss for Boston until a secret group formed within the walls of MIT began to investigate from the shadows. Quickly the MIT students begin to see how the experimenter was tormenting the city, their only question left was, how would they stop him.

For readers whom this is the first Pearl book you have or will read I must take a sidebar in this review and tell you that if you enjoy it, buy the other three… you will not be disappointed. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Pearl’s novels but I do have favorites. The Last Dickens published in 2009 is my favorite of his works but it has some serious competition with The Technologists. It is not often that I read a mystery and do not pick up on where the author is going long before the culprit is revealed. In Pearl’s latest I suspected many people and was surprised to find out who was really behind it all. For that and Pearl’s attention to detail in his meticulous research I gave The Technologists five stars. Hats off to Pearl for yet another masterpiece.

Novel Moments:

“Throughout his boyhood in a port town, he’d heard so many people spoken of as “lost at sea.” Now it seemed to him the strangest turn of phrase. As long as he was in the water he could not be lost.”
(Kindle Location 200)

“Technology is the dignity that man can achieve by bettering himself and his society.” (Kindle Location 892)

“When you stop the mind from inventing, you stop nature.” (Kindle Location 2339)

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The Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl

The Professor's AssassinThe Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl is a prequel to his latest novel The Technologists. The regular reader of Pearl will know that he does not disappoint the reader looking for an engaging historical fiction novel. His short story about a professor who is determined to find out the identity of a murderer at the University of Virginia and bring him to justice is no exception. Pearl’s talent for tantalizing the reader with thrilling tales shines through once again. William Barton Rogers (later to be the founder and president of MIT) is the science professor at the University of Virginia and is startled to discover that the riots of campus “volunteers” have turned deadly. Rogers is the first to want justice when one of his colleague’s is slain in the street at the hand of a student and volunteer. With his prodigious knowledge of the area and the help of other students Rogers goes on the hunt for the person responsible so he cannot kill again.

Pearl, as in his novels, creates a character in Rogers that makes the reader want to follow him into the darkest alley to find out who has committed the crime and bring that man to justice. From the first page we, the reader, are captured and cannot leave until the thrilling end.

The short story is riveting and leaves the reader wanting more. The short story also includes sample chapters from Pearl’s upcoming novel, The Technologists, which if the sample is any indication of the rest of the novel is going to be phenomenal. Trust me readers of historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers… you will not be disappointed with The Professor’s Assassin.

Novel Moments:

“William Barton Roger’s eyes tracked the bursts of light in the darkness outside. The other men in the room kept away from the window, as though there was somewhere to hide.” (Kindle Location 33-36).

“Jack would not be so limited forever. Nor would Rogers. More choices would come-they must.” (Kindle Location 944-49)

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