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May 10, 2010

Greg Iles & Nancy Goldstone

This is a post about book reviews, the only relationship between the two authors being that I have had reviews of their books published on Curled Up With a Good Book recently.

I've read a lot of Iles books, and I've been a big fan of Goldstone since The Friar & the Cipher, which she wrote with her husband. One iffy book this time and one excellent one.

First, let's go with the Iles book.

The Devil's Punchbowl: A NovelThe Devil's Punchbowl is Iles' latest book, and while it is very readable and quite the page-turner, I found it worse than usual. I normally like his books but they have a lingering aftertaste. This time, it's more of a lingering burning sensation, though once again I loved consuming it.

From the review:

"Penn Cage became mayor of Natchez, Mississippi, to save the town from becoming the hive of scum and villainy that it had been slowly turning into. Cage hasn’t been able to do what he wanted, however, and he’s starting to feel like he should just give it all up. One of his accomplishments was bringing a fourth riverboat casino to Natchez, the Magnolia Queen. But there’s a sinister secret behind the Queen and its manager, Jonathan Sands. An old friend brings Penn evidence of horrible atrocities going on behind the scenes: prostitution, dog-fighting, and many other vices. Penn can’t go to the police, as he has no idea who is on his side in this seamy, corruption-filled city. All he knows is that his family is in danger, and he has to protect them as well as bring an end to all of the depravity."

I really don't know what to think about Iles sometimes. His books are like Crack: addictive, but not necessarily good for you. I will devour each of his books and enjoy reading them, reveling in each of his plot twists and his very readable prose style. Afterward is always another story, though.

Oh well. Until he he produces a truly bad book (and he's been close a couple of times), I'm still with him.

However, I will be with Nancy Goldstone for a long while. Her latest book is on Joanna, the Queen of Naples in the late 14th century, and it's called The Lady Queen. I had never heard of Joanna before, and it was Goldstone's drawing power that made me pick this one up.

This book is just as interesting and readable as her other books, and I loved it.

From the review:

The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily"Goldstone gives a short history of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, setting the scene for Joanna's eventual rise to the throne, followed by Joanna's family history - including her father's desire to take over Sicily and add it to his domain. Joanna was betrothed at the age of seven to her cousin Andrew of Hungary, a political marriage that would make Joanna's life even more difficult. They even grew up in the same palace together. Joanna dominated that marriage, though Andrew eventually tried to assert himself politically. When Joanna's father, Robert, died, Joanna was elevated to the throne, the first European queen in centuries.

The first chapter of The Lady Queen actually begins shortly after Andrew is murdered, as Joanna is brought before the Pope to answer for the alleged crime of ordering Andrew's assassination. Goldstone showcases Joanna's nobility as well as her calm manner and quick mind, returning to it many times as Joanna's life is filled with political marriages that are desperate attempts to keep the throne for herself and keep it away from any husband who may want to usurp her authority."

I can't wait until we get another History book from Goldstone. I'll be there waiting!

I'd appreciate you checking out the reviews and letting me know what you think.


  1. With updating your blog so frequently, when do you have time to read? :P

    Books sound cool to me, unfortunately, not a chance that I get them here.

  2. Oh, I have plenty of time to read, though these reviews have been in the hopper since March. I don't post them until my Curled Up editor posts them, and there's been a bit of a delay. I think there are still 4-6 more reviews to come.


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