Tuesday, March 31, 2015

G577 Book Review of The William Shakespeare Detective Agency: The School of Night by Colin Falconer

Name of Book: The School of Night

Author: Colin Falconer

ISBN: 9781621252139

Publisher: Cool Gus Publishing

Part of a Series: The William Shakespeare Detective Agency

Type of book: William Shakespeare, Elizabethan England, 1593?-1594, family relations, mystery, acting, Kit Marlowe, strong heroine, comedy, daily life

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

"My name is William Shakespeare. No, not that Shakespeare; and no jests please, I've heard them all. I'm the other one, the ne'er do well cousin, the loafer, known to family and friends as the dunce, the one who could not recite Cicero or Horace, who could never be as good as his clever cuz, the one who has just come to Bishopsgate from Stratford with silly dreams in his head and a longing to make something more of himself than just a glover's handyman." What he finds in London is Lady Elizabeth Talbot, who is willing to pass a few shillings to this blundering brawler if he will help her find her husband. Poor William does not realize the trail will lead to the truth behind the death of Shakespeare's great rival, Christopher Marlowe - or to a lifelong love affair with a woman far above his station. Each book tells the story of William's adventures as England's first gumshoe, set against turbulent Elizabethan politics; of his romantic pursuit of the impossible Elizabeth Talbot; while charting the career of his up and coming dramatist cousin, the bard of Stratford, but just Will to his family.

Characters:

Because its a short book, (only 145 pages or so,) I don't feel that the story is very character oriented, and instead the author chooses to focus more on the mystery and history of the time rather than how characters change. Just like in Naked in Havana and East India, the woman, Elizabeth Talbot, is pretty fierce and has very funny dialogue regarding her husband and she is also determined to get to the truth through one way or the other. The playwright Shakespeare also has funny dialogue and he seems to warm up a little to the never do well cousin although he also seems to be burdened with a lot of things. The cousin Shakespeare is never do well, has low self esteem and yet a very memorable and quirky personality.

Theme:

Everyone has their own strengths

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative from William Shakespeare's point of view. No, not the playwright but the never do well cousin. The story and the time and place were engaging and memorable and the mystery was absorbing, although I do think that the final thread of what happened and why needs to be cleared up more and for me it tended to be disappointing, sorry to say so. The dialogue between the two cousins is memorable, and one becomes engaged about Shakespeare's (playwright's) life without it being boring or pedantic. Yes, should I have kids, this is something I will have them read to give them liking and passion for history.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

Buy the Book

About the AuthorColin Falconer

Born in London, Colin first trialed as a professional football player in England, and was eventually brought to Australia. He went to Sydney and worked in TV and radio and freelanced for many of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. He has published over twenty novels and his work has so far been translated into 23 languages.
He travels regularly to research his novels and his quest for authenticity has led him to run with the bulls in Pamplona, pursue tornadoes across Oklahoma and black witches across Mexico, go cage shark diving in South Africa and get tear gassed in a riot in La Paz.
He currently lives in Barcelona.
For more information please visit Colin Falconer’s website. You can also find him on Facebook or follow onTwitter.

Opinion:

I was first introduced to Colin Falconer's works through his Naked in Havana book, an exhilarating story that to this day I recall very fondly of a Scarlett O'Hara female. I also read the engrossing and heartbreaking East India novel that explores the themes of survival and civilization where none exist. Does the book match up to its predecessors? I'd like to think so yeah. More comedy than heartbreak, yet besides the bathing thing (bathing wasn't looked on very fondly in the past...) it really takes one back to the past of the 1590s England before Shakespeare captivated the world of theater and England, very funny and witty (Oh how I will miss the days when someone would notice me laughing and ask me what was so funny...) Yeah, like others I can't wait for sequel to come out.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The School of Night Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 16
Interview & Giveaway at View From the Birdhouse
Tuesday, March 17
Excerpt at I Heart Reading
Spotlight at Genre Queen
Wednesday, March 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Spotlight at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, March 19
Interview at Becky on Books
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, March 20
Spotlight at To Read, or Not to Read
Monday, March 23
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, March 24
Review at It’s a Mad, Mad World
Thursday, March 26
Review at Quirky Book Reviews
Friday, March 27
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Tuesday, March 31
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Blast Mademoiselle Chanel

Please join author C.W. Gortner as his latest release, Mademoiselle Chanel, is featured around the blogosphere from March 17-April 3, and enter to win one of three fabulously chic, Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets! 02_Mademoiselle Chanel CoverPublication Date: March 17, 2015 William Morrow/HarperCollins Formats: Hardover, eBook, Audio Book Genre: Historical Fiction Add to GR Button DRAMA, PASSION, TRAGEDY, AND BEAUTY: C.W.’s new novel stunningly imagines the life of Coco Chanel—the iconic fashion designer whose staggering creativity built an empire and made her one of the 20th century’s most influential, and controversial, figures. Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her sisters are sent to a convent orphanage after their mother’s death. Here, the nuns nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel her into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood. Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny. Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. Her little black dress, her signature perfume No. 5; her dramatic friendships, affairs, and rivalries with luminaries of her era increase her wealth and fame. But as the years pass, success cannot save her from heartbreak. And when Paris falls to the Nazis during World War II, Coco finds herself at a dangerous crossroads, forced to make choices that will forever change her. An enthralling portrayal of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel is Coco’s intimate story. Release Graphic

Praise for Mademoiselle Chanel

“In this deliciously satisfying novel, C.W. Gortner tells the epic, rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train) “In a novel as brilliant and complicated as Coco Chanel herself, C. W. Gortner’s prose is so electric and luminous it could be a film, and not just any film, but one of the grandest biopics of our time. Divine!” (Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl) “A richly imagined, deftly researched novel, in which the ever fascinating Coco Chanel comes to life in all her woe and splendor, her story unfolding as elegantly as a Chanel gown.” (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls) “From her heart-wrenching early years through her decades of struggle and glory, Gabrielle Chanel was fascinating—as is C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel. Coco lives again in this rich tale of brilliance, determination, and fierce self-creation.” (Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex) “Gortner brings to life a woman who was as alluring and captivating as her signature scent. ” (Historical Novels Review) “Gortner brings history to life in a fascinating study of one woman’s unstoppable ambition.” (Booklist) “Well-written and historically accurate . . . An homage to a couture icon whose influence is still powerful today.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Buy Mademoiselle Chanel

Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million iTunes IndieBound

About the Author03_CW Gortner

C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding. C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin's Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015. Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats. For more information visit C.W. Gortner's website and blog. You can also find him on Facebook, Twittter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sign up for C.W. Gortner's Newsletter for updates.

Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Schedule

Tuesday, March 17 Mina's Bookshelf Oh, for the Hook of a Book! So Many Books, So Little Time Wednesday, March 18 Forever Ashley History From a Woman's Perspective Thursday, March 19 The Lit Bitch 100 Pages a Day Friday, March 20 A Literary Vacation Beth's Book Nook Blog What Is That Book About Saturday, March 21 Genre Queen Sunday, March 22 A Bookish Girl Monday, March 23 Let them Read Books Tuesday, March 24 Unshelfish The True Book Addict Wednesday, March 25 Historical Fiction Connection The Never-Ending Book Thursday, March 26 Broken Teepee Friday, March 27 The Maiden's Court Saturday, March 28 Caroline Wilson Writes Svetlana's Reads and Views Sunday, March 29 Passages to the Past Monday, March 30 Flashlight Commentary To Read, Or Not to Read I'd So Rather Be Reading Tuesday, March 31 Book Lovers Paradise Wednesday, April 1 Booktalk & More Thursday, April 2 CelticLady's Reviews Friday, April 3 Book Nerd Luxury Reading

Giveaway!

Three Chanel-style black and white beaded bracelets will up for grabs during this blast, follow along for chances to win! Coco-bracelets – Giveaway starts on March 17th at 12:01am and ends on April 3rd at 11:59pm EST. – Must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. - Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to claim prize, or new winner is chosen. Mademoiselle Chanel Book Blast Giveaway  photo 882fbda1-16ef-4f87-932b-c2f711afa759.png

Friday, March 27, 2015

G561 Book Review of The Prince's Doom by David Blixt

Name of Book: The Prince's Doom

Author: David Blixt

ISBN: 9780615894430

Publisher: Sordelet Ink

Part of a Series: Star Cross'd

Type of book: 1328-1329, friendship, marriage, wedding, couples, Italy, Verona, Venice, politics, Padua, the feud, Shakespeare, Dante, incest, teenage rebellion, stars, love

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

The explosive fourth novel in the Star-Cross'd series! Verona has won its war with Padua, lost its war with the stars. The young prodigy Cesco now turns his troubled brilliance to darker purposes, embracing a riotous life and challenging not only the lord of Verona, but the stars themselves.

For once Pietro Alaghieri welcomes the many plots and intrigues of the Veronese court, hoping they will shake Cesco out of his torpor. But when the first body falls, it becomes clear that this new game is deadly, and will only to doom them all.

Characters:

There are a whole ton of characters, and it would take me forever to go through them all, thus I will talk about a few of them such as Cesco, Cangrande, Pietro, Lia and Katerina. The author gave voice to all the characters in the book, not leaving any out, and somehow he made them all seem larger than human. The characters didn't feel constricted to the story or pages, but instead they felt as if they could be someone you know or someone you care about. Cesco is the lovable (in my opinion) rogue/rapscallion who is a genius, witty, handsome but has his own darknesses in the fact he pushes authority too far, suffers from an addiction and seems to lack a woman's love. The things he learned and went through in the book is enough to drive anyone mad, but at the same time there is nothing fake or gratuitous about the drama he suffered. Cangrande is Cesco's father who seems to have too much of his son in him. He is a bit difficult to get a hold of, but I imagine that he might have had a similar upbringing to Cesco. He isn't merciful to himself nor to his son, he bitterly laughs at everything, and he seems to be Cesco's puppeteer rather than a father. He is a pretty strange character. Pietro is Cesco's foster-father who is very devoted and loyal to Cesco at the cost of everything else. He is the reason when it comes to Cesco's antics and I also loved the fact that he had a sympathetic view of the Jews of that time. Lia is Cesco's love and a very close familial relation who seemed to have wormed into his heart and refuses to leave him. She seems to be like him a lot. Katerina is Cesco's foster-mother, a vindictive and hateful woman who cares more for prophecies than anything else. Apparently she has a fascinating history of bad deeds to her name and although I have known her for a short time, I can tell that she is an unforgettable character.

Theme:

The story touches a lot on themes of free will versus fate, and faith versus reason

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative mainly from Cesco's and Pietro's points of views. Other characters briefly come in and out, but they don't stay a long time, although they do leave their marks. I have to be honest that as a newcomer to the author and the story, I was confused by beginning, but as Cesco's brilliance/madness begins to come out, I got drawn into the story a lot more, and many times wished I could have read the previous three books before embarking on this one. The timing and the pitches of the story are excellent; I didn't sense anything being rushed, but I sensed that the story was taking its time in presenting the grand performance. While its an excellent stand-alone novel, I have to say that some of the plots feel as if they stretch back to the previous three books and if you aren't familiar with the characters as I was, some of the subplots make little to no sense (no sense, nonsense haha)

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

The Star Cross’d Series

Based on the plays of William Shakespeare, the poetry of Dante, and the history of Italy, the Star-Cross’d Series is a tale of wars won, friendships lost, and conspiracies both mortal and stellar, an epic journey into the birth of the Renaissance that recalls the best of Bernard Cornwell and Dorothy Dunnett.

TITLES IN THE STAR CROSS’D SERIES

Book One: Master of Verona
Book Two: Voice of the Falconer
Book Three: Fortune’s Fool
Book Four: The Prince’s Doom

Buy the Book

About the Author03_David Blixt Author

Author and playwright David Blixt’s work is consistently described as “intricate,” “taut,” and “breathtaking.” A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS’D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, FORTUNE’S FOOL, and THE PRINCE’S DOOM) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY’S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, “Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It’s well worth it.” Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as “actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order.”
For more information please visit David Blixt’s website and blog. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Opinion:

Is it too soon to ask when the next book is coming out? Considering that I've finished the book today, and that I'm hungry for more of Cesco's adventures...umm I don't think so. I am really blown away by the story, the book and the writing. I'm new to the author and the series, thus the first thing that went through my mind when I saw that it was 720 pages is what I've gotten myself into. However, as I read more and more, the characters jumped off from the page and many times I wanted to be certain that I read what I thought I was reading when it came to Cesco's views and claims. I am still not sure if Cesco is mad or a genius because he is arguing heresy/atheism against the church (loved the scenes and the way he reasoned things out!) He is very unpredictable and quickly captured my heart. While Cesco is a major reason for falling in love with the book, the other reasons I loved is that it seems to be a 14th century version of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell; whatever you are looking for, you'll find it in there; tragic love, comedy, daily life, friendship, mystery, sabotage, revenge, wits and wordplay and so forth. Also, I am really not a fan of Dante or Shakespeare, yet the author has really breathed life into two of these ancient authors and I'm even considering re-reading Purgatorio by Dante just to understand Cesco even more. While I didn't appreciate the conversion scene of Shalakh the Jew, I did like the fact that the author portrays some people as sympathetic to the Jews and that they balance the negative christians such as Antonio out.

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

The Prince’s Doom Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 16
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, March 18
Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, March 19
Excerpt at Becky on Books
Friday, March 20
Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book
Saturday, March 21
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Monday, March 23
Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Tuesday, March 24
Guest Post & Giveaway at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Wednesday, March 25
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Friday, March 27
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, March 30
Excerpt at Buried Under Books
Tuesday, March 31
Spotlight at A Book Geek
Wednesday, April 1
Excerpt & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, April 2
Review at Quirky Book Reviews
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Friday, April 3
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

G527 Book Review of Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue

Name of Book: Dog Crazy

Author: Meg Donohue

ISBN: 978-0-06-233103-8

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: grief, loss, dogs, love, relationships, dog/human relationships, dog's roles in life, pets, foster pets, anxieties and phobias, 2000s, Philadelphia, San Francisco, conditioning, overcoming, moving on.

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.

Characters:

While other characters played a big role, the main characters included Maggie a thirty-two year old woman who happens to be a pet bereavement therapist but at the same time is suffering from agoraphobia. She changes a lot in the book, and the reader is with her during her every struggle, cheering her on to overcome the challenges. Anya is a youngest sibling among three brothers and loves dogs and photography. She has suffered through loss when her beloved pet is gone and is determined to find him. The dogs also play a big role in Maggie's story; Giselle is a poodle that is owned by Maggie's friend and that Maggie starts to use to help her go outside. She is vivacious, lively, helpful, loyal and friendly. Seymour is an anxious and a panicky dog that seems to be frightened of noises, leashes and trains, but also helps Maggie face her fears. The third dog is Toby, Maggie's previous dog that was always loyal and uncomplaining.

Theme:

"We carry our loves and our losses with us, and even though we can't know what is ahead, along the way we learn-it really doesn't matter from whom, dog or human-how to keep moving." (210)

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative from Maggie's point of view as she little by little reveals the life that led her to become the Agoraphobic Therapist. I liked and enjoyed all aspects of the story from the sentences to characters to plot and to confronting love and loss and trying to move on and heal from it. The story was the right size and once I got captured by it, I barely noticed the time flying away from me. I do admit that a few things toward the end weren't explained well and seemed to be in a hurry, but that didn't took away from my enjoyment.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

Add to Goodreads badge
Purchase Links

About Meg Donohue37962

Meg Donohue is the author of How to Eat a Cupcake. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA in comparative literature from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two young daughters, and their dog.
Find out more about Meg at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Opinion:

If you're a dog lover and are looking for something heartfelt, contemporary, and where dogs play a huge role in healing, then you're in a for treat: since I'm pretty new to the world of loving a dog (three years now...a miniature dachshund who is spoiled rotten...) I'm not sure if in the past I was able to sense or understand the role that dogs played in some of the books I reviewed previously. This book, however, this book really captured the motion and emotion of dogs and I enjoyed reading their antics and seeing my dachshund as well as a certain Chihuahua/Corgie mix in the dog characters; watching my little beauty stretch from a nap in a rollicking wave, hearing the thump of her tail against various objects, seeing those pleading eyes begging for a treat and so forth. I also loved some of the sentences that the book contained that pertained to healing and to dogs' role in our own lives as well as some advice on how to take care of incredibly skittish dogs. A wonderful and memorable treat for dog lovers that gets dog owners and poignantly captures the love we possess for our four legged friends. Oh yeah, love the cover, especially the cute dogs.

This is for TLC Book Tours

Meg’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, March 10th: Walking With Nora
Thursday, March 12th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, March 13th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, March 16th: Always With a Book
Tuesday, March 17th: BookNAround
Wednesday, March 18th: Bibliotica
Thursday, March 19th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, March 23rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, March 24th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Thursday, March 26th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, March 30th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, March 31st: Books in the Burbs
Wednesday, April 1st: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Friday, April 10th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

G538 Book Review of Solo by Kevin V Symmons

Name of Book: Solo

Author: Kevin V Symmons

ISBN: 978-1-62830-303-5

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc

Type of book: Domestic abuse, rape, romance, dreams come true, endless tragedies, 1988-2002, Boston, New Jersey, New England Conservatory School, writing, touring

Year it was published: 2014

Summary:

Jessica Long has the voice of an angel. But Jesse's cold beauty masks a brutal past filled with privation and cruelty. As the talented soprano approaches her final year at New England Conservatory, she is faced with a choice: stay with her striking young lover or accept the offer of a successful Broadway producer. She chooses the latter only to discover that fame can exact a cruel price. After years of yearning, the lovers meet again - at Jesse's ragged homestead on the Maine Coast. Matt will reveal the benefactor who's followed and protected Jesse as the lovers face a confrontation with the jealous pursuer who's tried to destroy her. One final choice awaits that may cost Jesse both Matt and her life. The Broadway impresario, a mysterious crime lord, and Matt's stunning literary agent head a cast of absorbing secondary characters. Filled with unexpected plot twists, Solo is a classic, leading the reader over a bittersweet tapestry spanning fifteen years.

Characters:

The characters are all well drawn and are easy to relate to, at least for me they were. Jesse is a fearless and brave young woman who is afraid of falling in love and who is determined at all costs to succeed and fulfill her dreams. Matt is a dedicated boyfriend to Jesse and loyal to friends and family no matter whom they are. Alice is Jesse's mother who helps her raise her young daughter Alexis (Ali). Few other characters such as Matt's dad, then Lawrence the producer are also drawn and had high possibilities, but I feel that they weren't used fully.

Theme:

Think hard before making a choice

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Jesse's and Matt's points of views. The characters are both well written and strong, at least from 1988 to 1989, and as the reader gets to know Jesse, the more they want for her to succeed. However the character development of Jesse isn't well taken care of after the year 1989 and I feel that very little is explained as to why she became the shadow of her former self. I have to admit that I felt frustrated with Jesse too, that she seems to have this unrealistic view that Matt should be the detective and discover all her secrets with little to no help and then decide whether or not he wants to be with her. As far as I know, I have high doubts that any person will become the detective and try to go after a person that is both hot and cold.

Author Information:
(From Pump Up Your Book)

For More Information


Kevin Symmons 3Kevin Symmons has a BS and an MBA. He has attended the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music and studied in France. After a successful career in business management and consulting, he returned to his first love: writing. His first novel, a spell-binding paranormal romance titled “Rite of Passage” is set in the chaotic period after World War II. It’s received dozens of great reviews and was a RomCon Reader’s Crown Finalist for 2013. His second effort is a contemporary romantic thriller set near his Cape Cod home, titled “Out of the Storm.” Like his first novel, it is an Amazon Best-Seller and received many 5-star reviews. “Solo“, an intense and ambitious women’s fiction work, has been released from The Wild Rose Press, his award-winning publisher. It explores the devastating effects of privation and domestic violence on the beautiful and extraordinarily talented young heroine.
For More Information

Opinion:

I am very reluctant in giving the story three stars because the first half is incredibly well written and absorbing with memorable characters, a very sweet romance and the fight between logic and heart. I really loved the three quarters of the novel, at least from 1988-1989; unfortunately after 1989, the story felt a bit flat for me and what I expected didn't really occur. From the summary, and the fact it deals with domestic abuse, I thought that the story will be about how the main character ends in an abusive relationship, but instead it had a soap opera tone to it. While from 1988 to 1989 the reader watches how love has an effect on Jesse as well as the choices she has to make, it seems that afterwards the years skip and the book loses its atmosphere in explaining why Jesse became that way. A lot of things are left unexplained and aren't taken up. While I felt bad for Jesse and for events that happened in her life, it seems as if way too many negative events occurred for the story to be believable.

This is for Pump Up Your Book


3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G551 Book Review of Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan

Name of Book: Fiercombe Manor

Author: Kate Riordan

ISBN: 978-0-06-233294-3

Publisher: Harper

Type of book: Gothic, supernatural, 1899, 1933, 1936, England, confinement, tragedy, postpartum depression and its effects, romance, hidden stories ,treatment, mental institution, helplessness, adultery

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

A house as old as Fiercombe Manor holds many secrets within its walls. But which dark chapter of its history is haunting Alice, a young woman staying there during the course of a fateful summer?

In 1933, naive twenty-two-year-old Alice is pregnant, unmarried, and disgraced. She can no longer share her parents' London home, so her desperate mother concocts a cover story and begs her old friend, Mrs. Jelphs, for help. The housekeeper at rural Fiercombe Manor, Mrs. Jelphs is moved by Alice's "plight" as a new widow and agrees to watch over her in the secluded English countryside until the baby is born and given up for adoption. Because the manor house's owners, Lord and Lady Stanton, no longer live there, Alice's only company will be Mrs. Jelphs and her skeleton staff.

Thirty years before Alice's arrival, Lady Elizabeth Stanton awaits the birth of her second child, fervently hoping he will be the boy her husband desires. But as her time nears, she is increasingly tormented by memories of what happened with her first baby and terrified that history will repeat itself . . . with devastating consequences.

At first, Fiercombe Manor offers Alice a welcome relief from her mother's disapproving gaze. But she begins to sense that all is not well in the picturesque Gloucestershire valley. After a chance encounter with Tom, the young scion of the Stanton family, Alice discovers that Fiercombe's beauty is haunted by the clan's tragic past. She is determined to exorcise the ghosts of the idyllic, isolated house.

Nothing can prepare Alice for what she uncovers. Can she escape the tragic fate of the other women who have lived in the Fiercombe valley?

Characters:

The characters that were well drawn were Elizabeth and Alice, although Elizabeth was more rounded and more of a joy to hang out with. Elizabeth is from the year 1899 and is desperate to give her husband the heir he feels he deserves. She is beautiful, dedicated to her child and inspires loyalty among all. She is best described as tragic and carefree. Her husband, Edward, is the firstborn son who also becomes a tragic figure in that he feels frustrated about what is going on with his wife and why she is the way she is. He loves throwing lavish parties, building a gloomy mansion and tries to do what he can with negative results. Alice is from the year 1933 who made a terrible mistake of sleeping with a married man and for that she is sent to Fiercombe Manor for confinement. Alice is brave, impulsive, has a complex relationship with her mother, and feels connected to both the manor and its former inhabitants.

Theme:

Disease affects everyone, both men and women

Plot:

The story is in first and third person narratives; first from Alice and third from Elizabeth. I think I liked Elizabeth's story the most and wanted more scenes with her in it. While Alice was interesting and enjoyable, she seemed to pale when comparing her to Elizabeth. The story acts as a mystery and an old fashioned gothic tale but it deals with an issue of postpartum depression after the child's birth. It's strange, beautiful and tragic wrapped in one complex layer.

Author Information:
(From TLC)


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Kate RiordanAbout Kate Riordan

Kate Riordan is a British writer and journalist who worked for the Guardian and Time Out London. She is also the author of Birdcage Walk and is already at work on her third novel. Born in London, she now lives in the Gloucestershire countryside.
Find out more about Kate at her website and connect with her on Twitter.




Opinion:

Ever since I was done reading The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, I've had a craving on finding a modern gothic story that strongly reminded me of Mysteries of Udolpho but without the weaknesses. I've despaired of discovering that novel until I started to read Fiercombe Manor. The story pulled me in into the dark and mysterious atmosphere, keeping the suspense alive, and it was modern and wasn't overwrought as Mysteries of Udolpho was. I do admit that I couldn't really get how the two stories connected to each other, but when you have characters such as Elizabeth Stanton as well as Alice Eveleigh living in a haunted valley it was easy for me to ignore that and to enjoy the feeling of living in a modern day Mysteries of Udolpho.

This is for TLC

Kate’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, March 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, March 18th: Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, March 19th: For the Love of Words
Monday, March 23rd: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, March 24th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, March 25th: Dwell in Possibility
Thursday, March 26th: Doing Dewey
Monday, March 30th: BoundbyWords
Tuesday, March 31st: Always With a Book
Thursday, April 2nd: Booksie’s Blog
Monday, April 6th: Unshelfish
Tuesday, April 7th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Wednesday, April 8th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, April 9th: From the TBR Pile
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)
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