ABookGeek is an eclectic book blog that features reviews of fiction, including genre fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, some young adult fiction, and the occasional non-fiction book.

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman Review

Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman: A Mystery - Tessa Arlen

I had really high hopes when I agreed to participate in the blog tour - and I was most definitely not disappointed. From the opening paragraph I was hooked and thoroughly immersed in the setting and the story.


The book begins as Edith Jackson, the housekeeper for Lord and Lady Montfort, is getting ready for a busy day of final preparations for the annual summer ball. The reader is introduced to the household, the servants and their roles and the family members. There are wonderful descriptions of the estate and the workings of the household. I really appreciated the attention to detail regarding the roles and expectations for every station as well as the dress and gardens.


Despite the beautiful surroundings, all is not well within the family. Lord Monfort's nephew, Teddy Mallory has gotten himself in trouble - again. Lord Montfort received a letter from the president of Oxford University and it pretty much ruined his day. This is the first in a line of problems regarding Teddy. He is not well liked - for good reason - as becomes apparent later in the book.


The family and friends all gather for a sparkling party and things seem to have gone perfectly - until the gruesome discovery the next morning. Lady Montfort is concerned about the investigation into Teddy's murder for personal reasons, and with the help of her inquisitive and clever housekeeper, they defy societal conventions and work discreetly to figure out who the murderer was.


I loved the subtle way in which Mrs. Jackson manages to make inquiries and listen to the gossip of the other servants - despite her first inclination to shut such gossip down immediately. This was one of those books that despite the urgency of the situation, I wanted to read slowly and savor the whole experience. The dialogue and settings were just wonderfully done and I loved the attention to societal expectations and the way both women were able to navigate around and within these expectations and still show that they were smarter and more intuitive than the officials investigating the crime.

I was pleasantly surprised that the author tackled some serious issues with the way servants were treated and thought of. I hadn't really expected her to address these issues, but she did, and did it well.


Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman has become the book that I recommend to everyone. I think it would appeal to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and particularly those who enjoy books about Edwardian England and those who watch Downton Abbey. I anticipate reading it again soon - just for the fun of it. I am also anxiously awaiting the second book in the series.

Source: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2015/01/death-of-dishonorable-gentleman-blog.html
The Ripper's Wife - Brandy Purdy

First of all, I really enjoy Brandy Purdy's writing and I did like the book, but The Ripper's Wife was not an easy read. There is considerable violence - both domestic and sexual - but, then we are talking about Jack the Ripper, so I think that should be expected, really.

A good deal of the book is written from Florie's point of view and she is a naive and pretty helpless character. I felt sorry for her for much of the book -- but it did get a bit wearisome that she just never seemed to realize what a horrible environment she and her children were living in. Granted, she had no income and was pretty much at the mercy of James and his completely awful family and servants, but still, I would have liked for her mother to help her before things went quite so far.

James Maybrick, Florie's husband, and in this book - the Ripper, is just the perfect villain. He is a drug addict who beats and rapes his wife, has mistresses on the side and is insanely and criminally jealous when she dares to have an affair of her own. Maybe half way through the book to almost the end, chapters switch between Florie and selections from the Ripper's diary -- a nasty bit of reading for sure. But, it does provide a look inside the workings of the killer's head and explains motive, opportunity and the other side of his life.

While Florie is flighty, fairly shallow, easily manipulated and weak-willed, she certainly didn't deserve the life she ended up with. No one does. At every turn she is thwarted in her desire for freedom and love and a life of her own. It isn't until late in her life that she finally seems to attain some semblance of a life she can enjoy. Such a sad life.

The descriptions of the city, the houses, clothes, lifestyles - everything are very well done. I could envision it all vividly - sometimes a bit too vividly. Even though it was a bit hard to read at times, I was still compelled to keep reading because I had to find out how poor Florie ended up. As with any Purdy book, it is well written. I would recommend The Ripper's Wife to adults who are interested in the topic of Jack the Ripper and the seedier side of London or the time period.

Source: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-rippers-wife-blog-tour-and-review.html

Goddess Born

Goddess Born - Kari Edgren

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I agreed to review Goddess Born, but the premise interested me enough that I had high hopes. I liked the whole descendant of the goddess Brigid and gift of healing aspect a lot.

I really love books that take place in Colonial America and I was happy that Goddess Bornincludes details about daily life, the differing religious groups in the area and the herbal knowledge of the times. I really appreciated the attention to detail in the descriptions about the Quaker religious beliefs and services.

I found Selah to be a sympathetic, engaging character and I knew she and Henry would end up together. I did feel that the romance seemed a bit rushed, and I would have liked it to be a bit more drawn out or at least explain a bit more how they fell for each so fast, but overall, the romance between Selah and Henry was satisfyingly sweet.

I was sufficiently appalled and upset by the villains of the novel. I think they were about as despicable as a person could be in this setting. I was quickly drawn into the drama and was anxious to find out who was behind all the accusations against Selah and I was totally surprised by the big reveal.

I think that Goddess Born will appeal to its target audience and I found it engaging and enjoyable. I actually already suggested the book to my daughter, so I think that pretty much says it all.

(This review was originally posted on my blog.)

Source: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2014/10/goddess-born-blog-tour-and-review.html

The Secrets of Casanova

The Secrets of Casanova - Greg Michaels

The Secrets of Casanova wasn't really what I was expecting - but in a good way. I hadn't expected to actually like Jacques Casanova, but I did. He and his brother Francesco are very different, but considering all the problems they have, they are very loyal to each other.  The novel starts off with Jacques short of money and staying with Francesco and his wife, Dominique. It seems like much of the trouble Jacques gets himself into is because he is always short on money and having to contend with people he has upset or owes money to.

Despite his reputation as a ladies man, Jacques is interesting and more complex  than might be expected. Jacques learns about a riddle and the rumor of a great treasure and sets off on another adventure. And when I say adventure, I really mean adventure -- he gets access to the Vatican's archive of forbidden books to look for information, is taken by pirates at sea, has a duel fought over him, goes to Jerusalem, gets caught in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and he actually  does find an amazing treasure -- although not quite the one he had expected. This book is so full of fun, wild, exciting escapades. There are also a few sex scenes -- which one would expect in any book about Casanova, but not as many as I had expected.

I think anyone who enjoys a wild adventure tale would enjoy The Secrets of Casanova. As a fictionalized version of Casanova's life, I thought it did a wonderful job of showing Jacques as a complex, troubled, ambitious man and not just the shallow, two dimensional version of the man that we have become accustomed to seeing.

(This review was originally posted on my blog.)

Source: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-secrets-of-casanova-blog-tour-and.html


Blackout  - Mira Grant oh. my. gods. this is so good. I didn't want it to end.
(actual review to follow - once I get my thoughts together.)


Socialpunk - Monica Leonelle I am not sure exactly where to start with this one. The premise for this novel just grabbed me and I had to agree to read and review it. I love - I mean absolutely love - cyberpunk. (Thank you William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson for giving me so many hours of reading joy.) The premise of this story felt like it was a continuation of what has been built into the genre already. That is basically what made me want to read it.

The idea that the main character of the story is part of a virtual reality and her world may or may not be real plays a major part of the story. I found the world created in Socialpunk to be unusually new and creative. I haven't read anything quite like it. I am still intrigued and really want to read more about the whole world - both the real and virtual world in the novel. I thought that Ima was an interesting character and the previous knowledge that she was created to live in the virtual world with all her strengths and weaknesses was just really cool to think about while reading. (Or is she real? Ah! So much fun!)

The story is fast paced with lots of action, dubious allies, shady villains, huge, probably evil corporations, rival gangs, conspiracies -- everything you could want for an exciting read.

The only thing I wasn't crazy about was how the book ended. There is a big reveal and cliff-hanger at the end that bugs me because now I have to wait to see what happens next and how it will be handled. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.


Graveminder - Melissa Marr I was so pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book. I have only read one other book by Melissa Marr, and while I liked the book, it wasn't my favorite. Graveminder, however, was so intriguing, that I could barely make myself stop reading to attend to life matters.

I loved the setting, the quiet little town, the fact that Rebekkah and Byron feel a pull back home every time they leave. Rebekkah knows her grandmother plays a special role for the town, but she isn't aware of just how special and that it is an inherited role - until it becomes her role. The premise of this book is just very interesting - I was fascinated as the story unfolded. The concept behind why Maylene had to mind the dead to keep them where she put them is very original - not at all what I would consider a regular zombie story.

full review can be viewed here: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2011/12/graveminder.html


Archon - Sabrina Benulis The world of Archon is a strange and dark version of our own, I think. Some things seem familiar but with a darker, more sinister feel. This is a world where "blood heads" - redheads are viewed with fear and suspicion because of a prophecy. Angela Mathers has had a tough life - apparently due mostly to her being a blood head. Her parents abuse her, she has vivid dreams of one angel over and over, and she can't die - or more accurately, she can't kill herself. She is institutionalized for two years after her latest attempt at suicide which ended with the death of her parents. Despite her abuse, Angela is a pretty strong and sympathetic heroine.

Read the entire review here: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2011/12/archon.html

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall - Anna Funder I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. I remember being glued to the news during these events and being excited and happy that things were changing in the world. But, I was far more familiar with the U.S.S.R. than I was the GDR. This may have been because I hung out with a few Russian Studies majors in college, and I was generally interested in Russian history. Stasiland was a real eye-opener for me.
Read the rest of my review here:

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy #2)

Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy #2) - Mira Grant Actual review coming soon. But I just finished it and . . . WOW! I love this book as much as FEED. I have to give myself a couple of days or my review will just be gushing over how good the book is. And just, you know, BTW. . . it is cruel to make me wait another whole year for the last book. Just sayin'.

20 Years Later

20 Years Later - Emma Newman I've been wanting to read this book for a long time. I finally just bought it for my kindle and read it very quickly. For such a fast read, the post apocalyptic world is built and revealed very slowly. The reader learns about the small patch of London where Zane and his mother Miri live in a mutually beneficial relationship with two of the local gangs. Zane has managed to reach early teens living within this sanctuary of a garden where he and his mother raise the fruits and vegetables that feed them and provides the herbs for healing the wounds of the gang of boys that live nearby. This sheltered existence can only be sustained for a time, and as Zane grows up, new people arrive and strange things occur, their lives become even more precarious and interesting than before.

There are mysteries about Zane's father and what happened to him as well as about what exactly IT was and how and why it occurred. As the story unfolds, more mysteries pop up such as what is the relationship between Zane, Titus and Erin and later Eve. Why are they different from the others? How did they get this strange link they have? Why are the Bloomsbury Boys always boys and where do they come from?

Read the rest here:


A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones  - George R.R. Martin I can't believe I hadn't read this series before. I started watching the HBO series and, naturally, I decided that I had to read the book before I got too far into the television series. The endings for the episode were killing me and I just couldn't wait. While there were some changes from the book to the series, I thought most of the changes were fine and some were necessary, like making some of the characters significantly older than they were in the book.
You can read the rest of the review here:

Don't Breathe a Word: A Novel

Don't Breathe a Word: A Novel - Jennifer McMahon This was an extremely fast read for me. I started it as soon as it arrived in the mail and then finished it the next night. There are so many things I really loved about this book. To begin with, the author kept me guessing right up to the end of the book on exactly what kind of story this was going to be: is this a fairy story, is this a straight-up mystery, or is it something else? And then there is the creepy factor. I was rather surprised at just how much this book creeped me out. I stayed up long after everyone else in the house had gone to bed and was rewarded by being truly creeped out after finishing the book and then having to wander through the old, dark house. Shadows and noises everywhere --- not good after reading Don't Breathe a Word - trust me.
Read the full review here: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2011/04/dont-breathe-word.html


Stoner - John Edward Williams Stoner is an amazing, beautiful book. At times, the story is just heart-breaking. His marriage is a prime example of this. The relationship is just so bitter and sharp and delicate - and absolutely perfect in the depiction of the way William and Edith relate to one another.

You can read more here: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2011/02/stoner.html

Storm Front

Storm Front  - Jim Butcher I found this to be a funny, fast, enjoyable read. I have read several reviews on Goodreads that found the character of Harry Dresden to be sexist and some even went so far as to accuse the author as well. I don't think I could go that far. I found Harry to be good-hearted and acting on the best intentions. The rest of my review is here:

Hating Olivia: A Love Story

Hating Olivia: A Love Story - Mark SaFranko This book initially sounded intriguing, but somehow it was different than I expected. I'm torn on this one. There are things that I liked about the book, but the characters were not really very likeable. Olivia is just trouble from the get-go. I also would not call Max and Olivia' relationship "love" in any real sense - obessession, most definitely - but not love. The story is told from Max's point of view, so we only get his interpretation of Olivia's motives for her behavior.
Continue reading full review here: http://abookgeek-llm.blogspot.com/2011/01/hating-olivia.html