Monday, March 27, 2017

G846 Book Review of the enemies of versailles by Sally Christie

Name of Book: The Enemies of Versailles

Author: Sally Christie

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0302-5

Publisher: Atria Books

Part of a Series: Mistresses of Versailles

Type of book: France, Versailles, Revolution, King Louis XV, King Louis XVI, 1750-1800, courtiers, daily life at Versailles, mortality, mistresses, daughter/father relationship, spinsterhood, lessons, Marie Antoinette, alliances, changes, time

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches inevitable revolution.

Characters:

There are basically two narrators; that of Cometesse du Barry and Princess Adelaide and both are contrasting. Just like in Rivals of Versailles, the two women are drawn wonderfully and are extremely complex people who stay consistent to their lives and personalities. Comtesse du Barry is a breath of fresh air and a fun loving woman who cares more for comforts and being content rather than plotting and scheming. She is also extremely generous and is sensitive.She also hates and cares little for politics. I honestly couldn't pin down what personality she might have had, Princess Adelaide is Louis XV's daughter who is a spinster, is extremely rigid and feels as if she is Atlas and carries the world and then some being the daughter of France. She also strikes me as extremely pompous, arrogant, and extremely judgmental. Adelaide's three younger sisters also have appearances; Victoire is one of the younger sisters and she tends to be easygoing and forthright, although she doesn't measure up to Adelaide's exacting standards. Sophie, I admit, is a favorite of mine because she has fascination with what is considered sexual words, and Louise is charming and realizes early what her older sisters never realized. In here King Louis XV is still a libertine but is frightened of death and for some odd reason is devoted to Jeanne and doesn't seem to care for having other mistresses.

Theme:

Change can happen either gradually or radically, but it has an origin

Plot:

The book differs quite a bit from its predecessors; The Sisters of Versailles as well as Rivals of Versailles. The previous two books contained multiple narrators as well as the letters that characters wrote and exchanged which added quite a bit more flesh to the story. Enemies of Versailles has two narrators in first person narrative; that of Adelaide, a spinster princess who is King Louis XV's daughter, and Jeanne Becu, better known as Comtesse du Barry. Also for some odd reason the chapter titles reminded me of Chinese classic chapter headings, in particular Dream of the Red Chamber which was published and created in 1700s. The characters are consistent and are both to be loved and hated.

Author Information:
(From back of the book)

Sally Christie is the authro of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She has spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto. To find out more about the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, visit sallychristieauthor.com

Opinion:

So this is what it's like to finish a series; heaviness within the heart, the inner voice screaming "NO!" and realization that this is the end; the characters one has grown to admire and care about will no longer have future books written about them. I'm awed, astounded, sad and heartbroken that this is the end of Mistresses of Versailles trilogy. The book has really lived up to the previous two books; Sisters in Versailles and Rivals in Versailles, and perhaps in some cases even surpassed Rivals in Versailles. For me as well, the story means both a beginning and an ending to chapter in my life; ending the fact that I am free as I was, and beginning a new chapter with my baby boy. Interestingly enough, the series have been with me when I was pregnant with my son (Sisters of Versailles) and one of the first book I read a month or so after my son's birth is Rivals of Versailles. Enemies of Versailles was around my son's first birthday. I really don't want to say goodbye to the series, but still, for a wonderful and vivid portrait of the final glittering years of Court of Versailles, do pick up and read this wonderful gem.

This was given to me by publisher in exchange for a review

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.)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

G806 Book Review of the secrets of montresor by Michael Stolle

Name of Book: The Secrets of Montressor

Author: Michael Stolle

ISBN: 9781481102247

Publisher: Self published

Part of a Series: The French Orphan Series

Type of book: Quest for rings, marriage, loyalty, France, England, wealth, friendship, intrigue, Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, sexuality, manipulation, scandal

Year it was published: 2012

Summary:

The Secrets of Montrésor is the eagerly awaited sequel to The French Orphan, and continues the story of young Pierre de Beauvoir…

Coming into a fortune at any age brings huge responsibility, but when you’re an inexperienced teenager, it seems that surprises are waiting for you around every corner.

Pierre, former orphan and now Marquis de Beauvoir, may have claimed his inheritance, but life is never that simple. For a start, he needs to learn pretty quickly exactly who to trust and who to keep at arm’s length. For example, how do you work out (and survive….) the changing motives of the most powerful man in seventeenth-century France, Cardinal Richelieu? And then what do you do when the people you should be able to trust try to deliver you into the hands of your worst enemy? And then there’s the small matter of a sacred quest to Italy…

Fortunately for Pierre he has his best friend Armand to support him as he gets to know his chateau at Montrésor, its people and… its secrets. (Armand, of course, has his own agendas to pursue, usually involving a pretty face and a willing smile.)

Far from being certain, Pierre’s future has yet to be settled and Pierre will have to draw on his own innate talents as well as those of the people around him to ensure he survives, as his enemies are just waiting to seize their opportunity.

Characters:

Main characters include Pierre and Armand who are best friends and are described as handsome. Pierre is both a Marquis and a Duke and is also blonde with blue eyes. His love is only for one woman, although from time to time he is a bit disloyal to her. Armand is a playboy who is dark haired and dark eyed and comes from an old lineage. He is loyal to his friend and does whatever he can to help him. He is mainly known for being charming towards women and not desiring to settle down. He doesn't like his cousin Francois. Francois at first is present as an extremely demanding dandy who cares a whole lot for comfort and who is similar to Armand. Jean is a loyal servant of mixed ancenstry who happens to be able to foretell the future. He used to serve Henri. Henri is Pierre's cousin who desires to become Marquis instead of letting Pierre do it and he is extremely manipulative, calculating and evil. He is often mistaken for Pierre and is possibly bisexual.

Theme:

Beware your family

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from a lot of characters' points of view. I do feel that Armand and Pierre didn't have a lot of character growth in the story and they continued to remain irrepressible and lovable young men who are desirous of spending time in idleness and friendship. The characters that do make the story interesting are the villains, that of Pierre's cousin Henri and his manipulations on nobility, and also on Armand's cousin Francois who doesn't get along with him. Jean also makes an interesting character. Just like previous book, the story is filled with one intrigue after another and yes, Louis XIII of the The Three Musketeers fame along with Cardinal Richiliau also make an appearance to continue to keep the intrigue going. Women didn't play a strong role in this book as they have in The French Orphan.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Born and educated on the Continent, Michael has spent most of his working outside the UK. ALthough an Economics graduate, Michael's first love has always been history, and he indulges hsi thrist for reading at every opportunity.

It was during yet another tedious business trip and a severe lack fo suitable reading matter that the characters of Pierre, Armand, and Henri came to mind; once they were conceived, so to speak, it was only a matter of time before they became real and took over any free time Michael had. The rest, as they say, is history. Or historical fiction, perhaps...

Opinion:

Just like The French Orphan, this is also an enjoyable book, although I do feel its a bit stereotypical or perhaps politically incorrect in some areas. The story is more interesting than in The French Orphan, and the characters are also a bit more complex, at least the male characters. I sort of hoped that the author would go for more complexity, but it's all right, Henri and Francois make up for that. Women were a bit stereotypical for my taste and didn't play a big role as they did in The French Orphan. Still a fun and memorable adventure story that is reminiscent of The Three Musketeers. As I mentioned in the previous review, I liked that Henri is reminiscent of a cat with nine lives, and that the readers often see him in action working his magic on people. I think I would have appreciated more details on a scene that seemed to be cut, on how Francois and Jean met and figured out who their common enemy is.

This is for HFVBT

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.)

G827 Book Review of Kill and Run by Lauren Carr

Name of Book: Kill and Run

Author: Lauren Carr

ISBN: 9780692477151

Publisher: Acorn Book Services

Part of a Series: A Thorny Rose Mystery

Type of book: Cozy mystery, rape, power, hiding, secrets, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Navy, Army, taking advantage of power and situation, murder, everyday life, present times

Year it was published: 2015

Summary:

Five women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.

Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.

Before long, the case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.

In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Lieutenant Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to sift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?

Characters:

There are a whole lot of characters, thus I will cover only a few of them; Murphy Thornton is working in United States Navy and has recently married an heiress, Jessica Faraday. Murphy is either a vegetarian or pescaterian, enjoys healthy living and is also part of an elite team known as Phantoms. He also has a motorcycle and is determined to do the right thing. Jessica Faraday is the only daughter to Mac Faraday and is an heiress. She is dark haired with violet eyes, is also fascinated by psychology and can give extremely detailed analyses of people and also desires to get a Master's and has recently gotten certified to be a detective. Joshua Thornton is Murphy's father who is a widower and has five children. He has participated in both Navy as well as being an attorney. Cameron Gates is a homicide detective who has her own issues. The pets themselves are extremely memorable from the cat Irving who looks like a skunk and who doesn't get attached to people easily to Newman, Murphy's dog who loves TV and hates walks to Candi/Spencer/Blue who answers to all her names.

Theme:

Villains don't come from nowhere

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from many characters' points of view, and the point of view does change often, but it didn't detract from the story. The characters are well drawn and feel human and complex, along with the animal critters that populate the pages. The story is a perfect balance of mystery as well as real life outside of mystery, and the characters are quirky, unique and very memorable. The reader will find themselves enjoying the characters and trying to figure out how the mystery connects and where it will next go. I did manage to guess a few things correctly, but the ultimate twist is not something I am able to guess. Also as well, the story focuses a lot on the difference between power and how institutions are set up to enable the hierarchy and who can get away and who cannot get away. Its sad that in 2017, a time when women should feel safe for being themselves, this story is still relevant to reflect how some things cannot be eradicated.

Author Information:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Add of Goodreads


Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

Connect with LaurenWebsite  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook

Opinion:

I honestly wish I had known about the author and her books earlier, but hey, better late than never. From time to time I enjoy reviewing mysteries, and while I like watching how it all unfolds, I often feel that the mysteries I have read are not what one would call relatable to ordinary people because either the characters lead fringe lives or perhaps all we see of the characters are the cases or mysteries they are involved in; we rarely if ever see their personal lives outside of mysteries. (For example, can anyone tell me what is Nancy Drew's favorite color or what music she likes listening?) thus I was prepared to feel a bit isolated from the characters and their situation. Boy was I wrong. Although the characters have high profile jobs and one of  them is an heiress, I felt that I can relate to them, and I found them extremely likable, especially the animal critters. I loved that the author mixed in the intimate scope of their lives along with the mystery which made for an extremely addictive read. I also liked that the characters are a bit unusual because honestly, how often does one meet a man who is into healthy living and yoga as well as being a vegetarian? And how often does one meet an ambitious women that others depend on for psychology analysis or that has realistic reactions to situations plus with an addictive mystery that you can't quite figure out yet?

This is for iRead Book Tours

BOOK REVIEW TOUR SCHEDULE:

March 1 - Working Mommy Journal  - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 1 - 
Within The Pages Of A Book - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 1 - 
Katherine Scott Jones - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 2 - Working Mommy Journal  - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 2 - 
My Journey Back - review of  Kill and Run / giveaway
March 2 - 
Within The Pages Of A Book - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 3 - 
Books, Dreams, Life - review of Kill and Run
March 3 - The World As I See It - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 3 - 
Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 3 - 
Books, Dreams, Life - review of A Fine Year for Murder
March 6 - Christa Reads and Writes - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 7 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 7 - 
Library of Clean Reads - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 8 -  For Life After - review of Kill and Run
March 9 - 
 Rockin' Book Reviews -  review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 9 -  T's Stuff - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 9 -  
My Journey Back - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 9 - 
fundinmental - review of A Fine Year for Murder 
March 10 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review of A Fine Year for Murder
March 13 - Olio by Marilyn - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 15 - For Life After - review of A Fine Year for Murder
March 16 - fuonlyknew - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 16 - 
Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 17 - Carol's Notebook - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 20 - Nighttime Reading Center - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 20  - 
Rainy Day Reviews - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 23 - The World As I See It - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 23 - Rainy Day Reviews - review of A Fine Year for Murder/ giveaway
March 24 - Books for Books - review of Kill and Run
March 27 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of Kill and Run / guest post
March 28 - Laura's Interests - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
March 29 - Pause for Tales - review of A Fine Year for Murder / author interview
March 30 - Laura's Interests - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
March 31 - Books for Books - review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 3 - Bound 4 Escape -  ​review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 4 - JBronder Book Reviews -  review of Kill and Run 
April 5 - Carol's Notebook - ​review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 6 - Dab of Darkness - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
April 6 - 
JBronder Book Reviews -  review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 7 - Mrs Mommy BOOKNERD'S Book Reviews - review of A Fine Year for Murder /                      guest post / giveaway
April 10 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 10 - 
Elsie's Audiobook Digest - review of Kill and Run
April 11 - Turning the Pages - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
April 11 - Readers Muse - review of A Fine Year for Murder
April 12 - Turning the Pages - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 13 - Dab of Darkness - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 14 - Jessica Cassidy - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
April 14 - 
Elsie's Audiobook Digest - review of A Fine Year for Murder
TBD       - 
Thoughts on Books - review of Kill and Run / giveaway
TBD       - 
Thoughts on Books - review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
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 25, 2017

G805 Book Review of the French orphan by Michael Stolle

Name of Book: The French Orphan

Author: Michael Stolle

ISBN: 9781478232278

Publisher: self published

Part of a Series: The French Orphan

Type of book: France, prestige, Louis XIII, Anne of Spain, homosexuality, inheritance, patricide, murder, orphan, monk, romance, friendship, travel, United Kingdom, King Charles, 1640-1641?

Year it was published: 2012

Summary:

The year is 1640, and Louis XIII is on the French throne. However, as far as you’re concerned, this is all pretty meaningless. After all, as a teenage orphan living in a monastery school in Reims, all you have to worry about is dodging the unpleasant advances of a few unsavoury monks and looking forward to a life of penniless and celibate servitude in a religious order.

After a childhood and adolescence plagued by a constant longing to know who he really is, orphan Pierre has not the slightest idea that his questions are about to be answered. But you know what they say – be careful what you wish for…

Suddenly finding out who you are can bring with it not only happiness and fortune, but danger, friendship and the sort of swift education that the monastery could never have provided! The discovery of who Pierre really is affects not only Pierre and his friends, but has ramifications for the French nobility, the English crown, and most dangerous of all, the machinations of Cardinal Richelieu and his fierce ambition for the Church and for himself.

Characters:

There are a lot of characters, and I'm afraid to mention that I'm not sure which plot events come from the second and third novels because they do run a bit into each other, thus I will focus on very few characters. Pierre de Beavoir is an orphan at a prestigious monastery who gets into madcap adventures with his friend Armand de St Paul. Pierre is about seventeen and is often described as intelligent yet naive as well as extremely good looking with blonde hair and blue eyes. He is often mistaken for his cousin Henri. Armand is literally a skirt-chaser who is best friends with Pierre and even initiates Pierre into the carnal mysteries. He is dark haired and dark eyed and comes from a distinguished line and seems to be the type that cares more for appearances rather than intellecutal pursuits. Henri is Pierre's evil cousin who desires to become the heir rather than his cousin. He is good looking and often mistaken for Pierre and can be charming as well as ruthless to those he hates and loves. People often get fooled by his looks in thinking he is an angel and he takes full advantage of that. Marie is Pierre's love interest who seems to be tomboyish and hates being thought of as a 'typical' woman. Celine (I'm not sure if she's in first book) is Marie's cousin who is independent and acts as a chaperone for Marie.

Theme:

Friends can be extremely valuable

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from Pierre's, Armand's and Henri's points of view. I think some other characters like Marie also give their points of view. What I did appreciate and like about the book are more details about Louis XIII and his marriage to Anne of Spain. Dumas, I believe, took it for granted that the audience would know about Louis XIII's sexuality, thus Dumas' The Three Musketeers wasn't fleshed out as these series are, which I liked. I also appreciated that the author paid attention to the showering debacle because in the past, guess what, people rarely, if ever bathed or took showers, seeing them as bad. Many authors tend to ignore that part, but the author doesn't. shy away from it. From what I can see, the author pays careful attention to small and great details which creates an interesting story to get lost in. Although this is from the future novels, I appreciated that Henri was given some successes with failures which makes  his experiences seem more natural. One thing I'd like to mention is that the author should work a bit more on his female characters and their hobbies/ interests.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Born and educated on the Continent, Michael has spent most of his working outside the UK. ALthough an Economics graduate, Michael's first love has always been history, and he indulges hsi thrist for reading at every opportunity.

It was during yet another tedious business trip and a severe lack fo suitable reading matter that the characters of Pierre, Armand, and Henri came to mind; once they were conceived, so to speak, it was only a matter of time before they became real and took over any free time Michael had. The rest, as they say, is history. Or historical fiction, perhaps...

Opinion:

Best way fro me to describe the story is The Adventure of Three Musketeers but what if it was written more for modern times instead of in the past? The story does take place around the time The Three Musketeers was set (yes, Louis XIII and even the Cardinal are included.) While the writing style makes the book more suited for young adult readers, some aspects of the book are not for young adults, (the book has menage a trois) and unfortunately the possible bisexual character is portrayed very negatively. I did read the other three books, and I will mention that homosexuality is portrayed as something natural to the characters, for example characters accept different sexuality of other characters, but its a shame that one character is portrayed badly. Also as well, I think I would have liked for women to be more well rounded. I understand that this is 17th century and women were severely limited, but I have read lots of other historical fiction where women were given more interests and personality beyond being the love interest or working in a bar.

This is for HFVBT

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.)

Around the World in 7 Books: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


Summary:

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Short History:

It seems rather fitting that my journey will begin in Africa, and that it will a multigenerational epic from late 18th century up until present. In the ancient past, Africa is best known for Egypt and even some Greek/Roman myths claim a connection to Africa. It is even thought that humankind had its origins in Africa during Ice Age when ice covered the rest of the world.

Unfortunately the more recent history is tarnished by slavery, poverty, AIDS, genocide, warfare and destruction of nature and life.

Fire and Water Symbolism: 

Four elements dominate life: water, air, fire and earth. All these elements are necessary for survival. Homegoing has two primal elements dominating the characters and their lives: fire and water. Air and earth, oddly enough, play no role in the story.

In the African timeline, fire plays a dominant role in the characters' lives, be it directly or indirectly, while in the American timeline, water plays a dominant role. Some prime examples of water is the ocean, bodies of water that characters end up settling near. In the book, fire is used as a weapon or even a myth in a creature known as 'fire-woman'.

Connections:

One of the other interesting aspects I found in Homegoing are connections that the characters have to the past; in what seems to be a parallel journey, in the African timeline, the connection to the past and to the land is always recovered and is never allowed to be forgotten, while in the American timeline, each time the descendants take root or memories of their past, it's always wiped away by different situations; it's as if in America the characters were not allowed to take root and to grow but instead were scattered (perhaps the indirect Air connection) while in Africa the characters were not allowed to take to the air and fly (perhaps indirect Earth connection.)

Ending my stay in Africa:

I enjoyed my stay in this particular book a lot, and I also was encouraged to perhaps try to create something similar in my stories. In this book, the stories are both broad and intimate in scope and are very enjoyable. (Heck, I read the book in one sitting.)

Time for me to leave Africa and to continue traveling on to Antarctica in The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick:

Róisín and François first meet in the snowy white expanse of Antarctica. And everything changes.

While Róisín grew up in a tiny village in Ireland, ablaze with a passion for science and the skies and for all there is to discover about the world, François was raised by his beautiful young mother, who dreamt of new worlds but was unable to turn her back on her past.

As we loop back through their lives, glimpsing each of them only when a comet is visible in the skies above, we see how their paths cross as they come closer and closer to this moment.

Theirs are stories filled with love and hope and heartbreak, that show how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets themselves.

See you in Antarctica!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Diverse Reads on my Blog #7

I know; it's been a while, but I do have intentions of catching up with the missed weeks. From reading other people's blogs, I also get inspired to create my own sort of posts where I talk about issues that have caused me to examine myself; one being lack of YA on my blog; another post is importance of having POC men/boys in leading and even romantic roles. I also want to write and talk about growing up in '90s early 00s and the reading back then. Anyways, I hope to write a blog post soon. Withour further ado, today's Diverse Reads will not feature Allies of Diversity.

Blast from the Past:

Are you there God? It's Me Margaret-Judy Blume

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She's just moved from New York City to Farbrook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends- Nancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their firs periods, Margaret is happy to belong. But none of them can believe that Margaret doesn't have a religion, and tha she isn't joining the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don't know is that Margaret has her own special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything-family, friends, even Philip Leroy, the best-looking boy in sxith grade. Margaret is funny and real. As you read her story, you'll know why this book has been the favorite of millions of readers. It's as if Margaret is talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

How It's Diverse: I really will mention that this book is timely and important because the main character is caught between Jewish and christian faiths which is something a lot of children find themselves in.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Antonia Shimerda returns to Black Hawk, Nebraska, to make a fresh start after eloping with a railway conductor following the tragic death of her father. Accustomed to living in a sod house and toiling alongside the men in the fields, she is unprepared for the lecherous reaction her lush sensuality provokes when she moves to the city. Despite betrayal and crushing opposition, Antonia steadfastly pursues her quest for happiness-a moving struggle that mirrors the quiet drama of the American landscape. (In my opinion, the book is completely different from this summary)

How It's Diverse: The story is of immigrants in Nebraska of 1880s. Also as well, the author had a masculine persona in college, choosing to cross dress as a man (according to wikipedia) and she has never been married nor had children; but it is rumored that the author is possibly a lesbian or bisexual or maybe even asexual.


O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Set on the Nebraska prairie where Willa Cather (1873-1947) grew up, this powerful early novel tells the story of the young Alexandra Bergson, whose dying father leaves her in charge of the family and of the lands they have struggled to farm. In Alexandra's long fight to survive and succeed, O Pionners! relates an important chapter in the history of the American frontier. Evoking the harsh grandeur of the prairie, this landmark of American fiction unfurls a saga of love, greed, murder, failed dreams and hard-won triump. In the fateful interaction of her characters, Willa Cather compares with keen insight the experiences of Swedish, French and Bohemian immigrants in the United states. And in her absorbing narrative, she displayes teh virtuoso storytelling skills that have mad her one of the most admired masters of the American novel.

How Its Diverse: Like My Antonia, the story focuses on immigrants from the northern countries that came over to Nebraska as well as the sacrifices they have to make. It also comes after My Antonia. Also as well, the author had a masculine persona in college, choosing to cross dress as a man (according to wikipedia) and she has never been married nor had children; but it is rumored that the author is possibly a lesbian or bisexual or maybe even asexual.

Future Reviews:

The Most Dangerous Thing by Leanne Lieberman (The main character in the book suffers from depression as well as anxiety, and from what I can see she deals with her problems in a responsible way rather than something unrealistic) 

Sixteen-year-old Sydney hates to talk (or even think) about sex. She's also fighting a secret battle against depression, and she's sure she'll never have a boyfriend. When her classmate Paul starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is caught off guard by his interest. Always uncomfortable with any talk about sex, Sydney is shocked when her extroverted sister, Abby, announces that she is going to put on The Vagina Monologues at school. Despite her discomfort, Sydney starts to reexamine her relationship with her body, and with Paul. But her depression worsens, and with the help of her friends, her family, a therapist and some medication, she grapples with what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex: female desire.


One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

5 Books I am planning on Tackling This Year:

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez, Megan McDowell

An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.

Pages: 200 in my copy

The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji,  Bruce Fulton (Translator), Ju-Chan Fulton (Translator)

Uzupis (on the other side of the river) is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Uzupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.

Pages: 149





Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Pages: 481


Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey sees the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives around her, culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots. FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines maintaining one's identity within changing communities in what is her remarkably assured debut.

Pages: 560

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home. What he discovers is both chilling and heartbreaking: an untold story of what happened to a generation of Americans abandoned by their country.

The Patriots is a riveting evocation of the Cold War years, told with brilliant insight and extraordinary skill. Alternating between Florence’s and Julian’s perspectives, it is at once a mother-son story and a tale of two countries bound in a dialectic dance; a love story and a spy story; both a grand, old-fashioned epic and a contemporary novel of ideas. Through the history of one family moving back and forth between continents over three generations, The Patriots is a poignant tale of the power of love, the rewards and risks of friendship, and the secrets parents and children keep from one another.

Pages: 542

Monday, March 20, 2017

G849 Book Review of The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Name of Book: The Roanoke Girls

Author: Amy Engel

ISBN: 978-1-101-90666-8

Publisher: Crown

Type of book: dark subject matter, Kansas, 1990s, 2000s, deaths, disappearances, Roanoke girls, mysteries, pregnancies, relationships, family drama, self-sabotage, psychology, love, affection, wealth, grooming

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother's suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother's mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane's first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Characters:

The main characters in the book are Allegra and Lane. Allegra is a woman/girl of flair who enjoys carving words on surfaces and often tries to fill her life with noise and distractions be it clothes or boys. Lane's mother killed herself recently and has hated Lane for her whole life. Lane's mother is an extremely damaged woman who never gave much guidance to Lane in life. While Lane seeks and desires stability and good things, she often self-sabotages her own efforts and burns her relationships. Secondary characters include Tommy who comes from a loving family and has his head on straight and who desires to be with Allegra. Cooper is Tommy's friend and he comes from an abusive family that had his father beating everyone up although he makes efforts to get away from his own history. Lane's and Allegra's grandpa is sweet, charming and can make women feel very special. Sharon is a housekeeper who cannot do the housework while their grandma is elegant, regal but has very dark secrets as well as twisted love.

Theme:

People will do whatever they can to absolve themselves of responsibility\

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative as well as third person narrative briefly. First person narrative is told from Lane's point of view and it flips between the summer she spent at Roanoke as a teenager and the summer she came back to help find her cousin Allegra. Third person narrative are the women that dominated Yates, Lane's grandfather, life. The glimpses are brief and unfortunately the reader learns very little about the Roanoke women beyond their cravings. Also as well, the story takes place in summer, and the narrator constantly reminds reader of the reality of summer in the South, thus while summer activities do exist, most of the time they only add to the futility and emptiness of the season. What is also disturbing for me is how small topics are encouraged but the elephant in the room is ignored and not talked about.

Author Information:
(From Book)

Amy Engel is the author of the young adult series The Book of Ivy. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults

Opinion:

I'll be honest; this was the most exhaustive and energy draining novel I have read so far. I don't mean it in a bad way honestly, just that I live in Texas, and reading about summer in Kansas and being constantly reminded of the heat and so forth really drained me. (Appropriate that I read it in the spring, I'd say.) The book certainly lives up to its reputation to being dark, uncomfortable, depressing and angry. I don't want to spoil by mentioning what it has, but let's say that is the first time I've read a story that contains this type of subject matter. (In a way, think of Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu and Genji and Murasaki's baser relationship.)  My reactions to the story are odd as well as angry. I honestly wanted to understand and sympathize with Lane Roanoke, but I found myself being frustrated with her self-sabotaging ways, and I couldn't really understand why she behaves the way she does, although the idea was constantly hammered in all the time. There are quite a lot of twists and yes mystery is also included. I personally would have liked to see more of the previous Roanoke girls, as well as how all that was going on is an open secret of sorts. Also, as twisted as it will sound, I wanted to see how Yates justified what he has done.

This is for Blogging for books

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.)

E-Reading G851 India

Title of the book: India

Author: Debra Schoenberger

Publisher: Blurb

Publishing Date: 2017

ISBN: 13: 9781366531575)

Summary:

I have always been fascinated by the sheer beauty and diversity in Indian culture. "Sensory overload in a glance" is an apt description of a country that is always in movement. To be able to stand still in the middle of all that movement allows me to really "see" her people and absorb the flow of life from birth to death.

From learning how to make yellow ink from cow urine to watching funeral pyres burn in Varanasi, I realized that I would have to spend a lifetime here to grasp the immense value of her art, stunning architecture, fascinating food and love of all that is beautiful.

Buy the book:   Amazon   Blurb   iTunes   Website
Add on goodreads 

Author Info:
(From iRead Book Tours)

Meet the author / photographer:   

Debra Schoenberger aka #girlwithcamera

"My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fuelled my curiosity for the world around me.

I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor's favourites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC.  I also have an off-kilter sense of humour so I'm always looking for the unusual.

​Connect with the author:    Website
 ~  Facebook ​~ Instagram ~  Pinterest

Personal Opinion:

For me personally, there seemed to be a touch of whimsy as I looked over the pictures, a comparison between the India of today and of the past. I also liked the quote about how India is considered to be not in a modern sense of decay, which gave the photos interesting spin. There is definitely a contrast between the machinery of today be it a cab, a bus, buildings, and of the past when it comes to ancient temples, women dressed in saris, architecture, or even nature. An indomitable human spirit is at work, and it reminds me of 'Till Morning Comes by Han Suyin when China was described as both beautiful and ugly. (Will post the quote later.)

This is for iRead Book Tours

March 6 - Library of Clean Reads - review / author interview / giveaway
March 6 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
March 6 - Bookworm for Kids - review / giveaway
March 7 - Books, Dreams, Life - books spotlight / guest post
March 7 - Cheryl's Book Nook - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
March 7 - Puddletown Reviews - book spotlight / giveaway
March 8 - Everyday Gyaan - book spotlight / giveaway
March 8 - 30-Something Travel - book spotlight
March 8 - Fantastic Feathers - review
March 9 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - review
March 9 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
March 10 - A Bookworm's Musing - review
March 10 - Spines in a Line - review / giveaway
March 13 - Katie's Clean Book Collection - book spotlight / giveaway
March 13 - 3 Partners in Shopping Nana, Mommy + Sissy Too! - spotlight / giveaway
March 14 - Katherine Scott Jones - review
March 14 - All things bookie - review
March 15 - Lukten av Trykksverte - review / giveaway
March 16 - T's Stuff - review / author interview / giveaway
March 16 - StoreyBook Reviews - review
March 17 - Zerina Blossom's Books - review
March 20 - Books Direct - review / guest post
March 20 - Blooming with Books - review / giveaway
March 21 - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
March 21 - 100 pages a day - review / guest post / giveaway
March 22 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / guest post / giveaway
March 22 - Teresa Edmond-Sargeant - book spotlight / author interview
March 23 - Anglers Rest - review
March 23 - Olio By Marilyn - review / author interview
March 24 - Elsie's Audiobook Digest - review
March 24 - Outset - review
TBD           - 
Within The Pages Of A Book - review / guest post
​TBD           - 
Book and Ink - review / giveaway
TBD           - 
Rockin' Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
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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