Monday, December 16, 2013

A Trip into the Supernatural 

By: Roger J. Moreau
<3 <3 <3 

Summary: "Face it, Morneau, you're not your own master. I wish you were, but you're not. The spirits own you in your entirety, and the sooner you acknowledge that, . . . the better off you'll be." Roland began pacing the floor, wringing his hands. "What I'm about to say to you I'd rather tell my enemies, instead of a longtime friend." 

By then Roland was perspiring profusely, although it wasn't warm in the room. "Your days are numbered-along with those of the young couple responsible for leading you away from the master. Come with me to see the high priest right now. He will restore you to the spirits' favor, and all will be well. This way no one gets hurt." Roland again had to pause for a couple of seconds to use his handkerchief. 

"One thing in particular the high priest wants you to realize-no one has ever gotten out of our secret society alive. The spirits brought you and me into it, we're to be in subjection to them, not they to us." 

The experiences and questions of childhood and wartime had turned Roger Morneau away from God until he hated Him. After the war a friend led Roger into demon worship. Then Morneau discovered the good news of a loving God and wanted to break away from devil worship. 

But could he? Here is Roger Morneau's own story of divine rescue from the terrifying world of Satanism.

Review: In a trip into the Supernatural Roger Moreau tells the story in narrative/first person form;  of his journey from worshiping spirits to becoming a Seventh-Day Adventist.  The back of the book was misleading in that it portrayed that the book would have more scenes like that in it, when really the book was like a bible study for Adventist beliefs, which is fine, but just be aware of this before buying or reading this book.

Roger Moreau talked about himself in a very relatable way however the other characters/people seemed flat, descriptions of them very nominal. In addition when any important event happened I did not feel like I was there right along with the characters/ and or people.  Everything just felt very vague.  

If you are looking for what Seventh-Day Adventists believe and almost a bible study this is the book for you.  If your just looking for a story then I would not recommend this book.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Venus in Winter (A novel of Bess of Hardwick) by Gillian Bagwell

Venus in Winter (A novel of Bess of Hardwick)
By: Gillian Bagwell
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Summary: On her twelfth birthday, Bess of Hardwick receives the news that she is to be a waiting gentlewoman in the household of Lady Zouche. Armed with nothing but her razor-sharp wit and fetching looks, Bess is terrified of leaving home. But as her family has neither the money nor the connections to find her a good husband, she must go to facilitate her rise in society.

When Bess arrives at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, she is thrust into a treacherous world of politics and intrigue, a world she must quickly learn to navigate. The gruesome fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business. Even so, she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Bess outlives one husband, then another, securing her status as a woman of property. But it is when she is widowed a third time that she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, the power and the possibilities are endless 
Review: Venus in Winter was a refreshing novel about the life of Bess of Hardwick, a young woman who came of age in the court of King Henry the VIII, as he was going through wives, like women today might go through shoes.  From the first chapter of this novel the language flowed very smoothly and it was a very intoxicating read that I did not want to put down.  Bess leaves her house at the age of twelve for better opportunities and for the prospect of marriage, the book follows her through four marriages, over six children, four different monarchs, and four marriages.
Each husband seemed to fulfill a different need for Bess from the sweet innocent love of Robbie, the trusting love of her first William, the passionate love of her second William and with her last marriage to the earl fulfilling the  need to be known as a woman who was noteworthy as her years progressed and her children left home.  My favorite line in the book was when Queen Elizabeth asked Bess her advice about marrying and what she should do, and Bess after thinking says something to the effect of, "whatever you want."  I think this sums up how her character was portrayed and why she was loved by everyone; although marriage had been the right choice for her, she recognized that for the Queen it would probably bring more harm than good, and Bess accepted that and still loved the Queen and served her and accepted her for who she was.  Many of the characters loved Bess and she showed them kindness and professed sadness for them when their decisions got them on the wrong end of the axe (such as Jane Grey) and in trouble with the monarchs.  Yet she still showed them kindness even though they or their loves ones for them had made bad decisions.  Bess stuck to the established rules and decorum of the time, and that I think is what kept her safe, that and her choice of husbands.  I finished this book in two days because I loved the characters and how it was worded I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read; especially who loves Tudor history.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

The White Princess 

By: Philippa Gregory

<3 <3 <3

Summary: When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army and invades England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.

Review: The White Princess follows the story of Elizabeth of York a princess of the House of York who was used as a game piece by her Mother and the new ruling Tudor house of England when she is married to the new upstart Tudor king Henry whom much of the country still sees as a pretender to the thrown and who the author portrays as not having the natural 'finesse' of a natural ruler that the York line had in its rulers such as Elizabeth's Father King Edward, or the last York Ruler, Elizabeth's uncle King Richard;  with whom Elizabeth of York had a much whispered about relationship.  

While some of the details in the story were interesting, this was not one of my favorite Philippa Gregory books, it was very bogged down with the political and battle details of the time, and I found myself after the first hundred or so pages getting annoyed with certain things.  Like Elizabeth constantly telling King Henry, 'I don't know' or when her cousin Maggie Teddy's sister would deliver shocking or private news Elizabeth would consistently just start off by asking 'What?' I don't think this really did justice to how smart Elizabeth would have been or how dialogue would have progressed.  The details, and events that were concentrated on in the White Princess surprised me it was not as enjoyable as other books by this author, that I've read.

Some of the settings, and descriptions of the children were enjoyable, however the overall descriptions of Elizabeth were not what I expected.  The descriptions of England, Henry and his Mother and Elizabeth's Mother were more on point in my opinion, and I do enjoy learning more about this time period. The book follows Elizabeth's life from her marriage to Henry up until he decide's the fate of "The Pretender."  I don't recommend this book if you're looking for a normal Philippa Gregory novel it was really more about King Henry's cowardice,  and Elizabeth not letting go of her love for Richard.  An interesting take on the story of the cousins war.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Red Tent
By: Anita Diamant
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Summary: Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.

Told in Dinah's voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.
Review: The Red Tent is one of those novel's that I have had numerous people tell me is wonderful and that I just HAVE to read.  I remember my cousin reading it after it first came out and just loving it; I've wanted to read it for years but have just never done it.  Almost in a way because I was scared it wouldn't live up to the hype or what my expectations of it had been built up to, but it really did for the most part.  
The Red Tent tells the story of Dinah, Jacob and Leah's daughter.  (Jacob, the son of Issac who was the son of Abraham.)  It follows Dinah's story and that of her "mothers"  (Jacobs wives) from Jacob's entry into Labon's nomadic dwelling through his marriages to Rachel and Leah, and through them their concubines,  into the births of their children,  then segwaying into Dinah's childhood, entry into adulthood, and the story of her life.  The language that Diamant uses in the novel to describe the camaraderie between the women made me as a reader feel as if I could see what she was describing and feel as if I was actually there, in addition I thought that this author gave a realistic portrayal and strengthened the image of the role women played in ancient times. Women are not mentioned a lot in Biblical manuscripts because  the authors were men and women were considered to be little more than property. 
I liked the way Dinah's story was taken, I thought it was a realistic portrayal of what could have happened; In addition the way each of the mothers was described in the ways they interacted and in how their personalities differed made this a story that was very easy to relate to, because you could've been reading about women in a room together today; the surroundings and objects might be different but the emotions and having to work to be able to live in peace is something women have to work on in every generation.  The only thing I did not relate to in this book was how Joseph was portrayed, as far as his personality, and other traits other than that I would recommend this book it was a wonderful read! 

Monday, November 18, 2013


                                                                      <3 <3 <3
Texas vs. Davis (New, Sensational Disclosures - The Only Complete Account of the Bizarre Thomas Cullen Davis Murder Case)

By: Mike Cochran

 Summary :   At last, the definitive account of the sensational Cullen Davis case written by the award-winning reporter who covered the entire four-year story from the night of the mansion murders through the three circus-like trials to the news-making revelations still surfacing as the book went to press. Texas vs. Davis uncovers information never before printed anywhere and witnesses who never testified. Davis family members disclose personal insights for the first time; a woman who claims she was with Cullen the night of the murders speaks up; a hired gun spills the beans about his employer - for starters. Thomas Cullen Davis (born September 22, 1933 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an American oil heir. He was acquitted of the murders of his stepdaughter and his estranged wife's boyfriend, then hiring a hitman to kill his estranged wife and a judge. A billionaire at the time, he is the wealthiest man to have stood trial for murder in the United States.

Sidenote: This book is in a completely different genre than the books that I normally gravitate towards, and choose to review on Booksalicious, however one of my closest friends got really interested in this criminal case after she had read this book and a few articles about it.  According to her this book had the best and most factual information that she has come across as far as what you can learn about the Texas vs. Davis case.  She loaned me this book to read over six months ago, and at first I put it off because I am not usually interested in true crime type books such as this one; however after becoming involved I did get pulled in which I will talk about in the review.  Anyway I just wanted to clarify that the blogs main book review genre's will remain the same.  This book was a slight detour, which I think is healthy for every reader once in awhile reaching outside of our comfort zone and exploring different genres.

Review: Texas Vs. Davis chronicles the story of Cullen Davis, an individual who seems to live an enchanted life.  With a Father who is a self made millionarie many times over when he leaves college Cullen already has a job waiting for him in his Father's company.  Over the years Cullen seems to lead a charmed life at least looking in from the outside; living the American dream on a grand scale, raising children, traveling, working at the top of a huge corporation.  Of course there are always ups and downs but the world thinks that Cullen is taking the punches as they come.  After divorcing his first wife Cullen marries Priscilla, after this event, the story really begins to unfold, after a short period of "wedded bliss" fighting starts, including physical and emotional abuse on both sides but the heavier abuse comes from Cullen and is aimed at Priscilla.
 The couple separates and divorce proceedings come to a head; upsetting Cullen who feels financially worn down by Priscilla. And furious at the presiding divorce judge.

Not too long after Cullen's payments to Priscilla are increased; Priscilla and her companion, as well as other victims (including a 12 year old child) will  suffer heinous crimes in Cullen and Priscilla's mansion one night after returning from an outing that will start a round of trials, mistrials, and verdicts that will leave the reader speechless at just how blind justice can really be when money is involved, and the victims are forgotten.

Texas Vs. Davis for me was a very dry read.  To be fair it is not my favorite genre, and once I got to a certain point I knew I had to finish just because I needed to know what the verdict in each of Cullen's trials would be.  If you are interested in this particular case then I would definitely recommend this book.  I did enjoy some of the bantering back and forth of the lawyers; also the book is separated into three sections and there were quotes at the beginning of each section.  I felt that these quotes did a great job in portraying the relevant 'mood' for that section of the book.  Cochran seems to be a good writer and even though this type of book isn't my cup of tea.  I will admit I did not put it down the last 100 pages or so.  The story is just so dramatic, three trials, contract killers, three wives, extortion.   I've gotta admit in this case justice really was blind.  Blind to the truth.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Second Firsts, Live, Laugh, and Love Again

This book was provided by Hayhouse as a review copy in return for an honest review thank you!

Second Firsts, Live, Laugh, and Love Again is a book that truly opened my eyes to what my grieving process was truly causing in my life as far as not going out, spending time with my friends and family and not moving forward from the painful loss of my maternal Grandfather who was a huge influence in my life.  The author Christina uses the painful and traumatic loss of her husband as a catalyst to show the reader how at first she too had trouble moving forward with her own grief and in her own life; with a gentle push and in your own time Christina encourages the reader through a series of exercises and self timed steps to use grief as a step to move out of the waiting room of grief and to use your pain as a step to a new and fulfilling life, that is not an echo of your old life, but a completely new and bright life that you can achieve through believing both in yourself and in you’re ability to make good decisions and continue to move forward.  I can honestly say that this is the most refreshing thing I have read since the loss of my Grandfather that has helped me move past the numbness of the loss and back into feeling like myself again.  I would recommend it to anyone who has recently loss anyone or who is going through a divorce or tough time in their lives.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Last Waltz by G.G. Vandagriff

Rating: <3 <3 <3 <3 

Title: The Last Waltz

Author: G.G. Vandagriff

Summary: In December 1913, the city of Vienna glitters with promises of the future for sought-after debutante Amalia Faulhaber. But life takes a dramatic turn when simmering political unrest escalates into the most deadly war the world has ever known. Amalia is devastated when her fiance, Baron Eberhard von Waldburg, breaks off their engagement to return to his native Germany and obligatory military service. But she soon discovers that her passion for democracy in an increasingly fascist world has put everything she loves in danger. Her family torn apart and improvished by the war, Amalia must now choose between an idealistic young Polish doctor, who shares her political views, and the wealthy Baron von Schoenenburg, an Austrian Cabinet minister who promises to provide safety and security in a violent, tumultuous time. Reminiscent of Gone with the Wind, this epic novel explores the nature of human character and the elusive search for love and peace.

Review: The Last Waltz by Vandagriff begins in the world of Amalia a young almost twenty year old upper middle class debutante living in Austria right before the start of World War I, in the beginning of the story I was a little worried because Amalia's character seemed very shallow and did not seem to have any depth to her but as the her story unfolds and the young heroine must deal with heartbreak, death, illness, and disease, caused by the war, those she loves, and her supposed "friends." Her character transforms into a very noble and wise person who I really enjoyed getting to know as I turned each page.  

The main plot line follows Amalia's different twist and turns with her family, and how World Wars I and II would affect them and their views on life as well as her ongoing love story with a certain young doctor that in different seasons of her life send her into very light and very dark places.  It also follows other love interests that she turns to when things go badly with the doctor, and the plot outlines how sometimes the most lonely and horrific moments in our lives can be made into something that was for the better as far as our personal growth and character were concerned;  Amalia discovers that maybe the one she really loved was standing right there beside her through the storms of life all along.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I've been very ill please excuse my absence from posting reviews and participation in book groups I'll get back on as soon as possible. Happy Reading =)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Katherine by Anya Seton, Group Read, on Goodreads

I will be reading the book Katherine, by Anya Seton, one of the classics in Historical Fiction.  I am doing this as a part of a Group read on the Goodreads website.  I am still reading a few other books but this one will be my main focus until I finish it =) Sorry I have been absent so much recently I have been quite ill; Cheers to everyone and hope you are enjoying your summer!

Friday, July 5, 2013

'Quote an Author'

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, June 27, 2013

 The person, be it gentlemen or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. 

Jane Austen 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mary GrandPre Illustrator) 

By: J.K. Rowling

<3 <3 <3 <3 

Summary: Harry Potter is midway through his training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup. He wants to find out about the mysterious event that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. But unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal - even by wizarding standards. And in his case, different can be deadly.

Review: Harry Potter is now in his fourth year at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, but this year he will find that he gets more than he bargained for as he finds himself signed up for a contest between different European schools of magic, that involves magical skill prowess, and that was supposed to have an age limit but someone apparently felt that Harry should be in on the 'fun'.  In this fourth installment of the Potter series Rowling's writing is even more addicting and has matured a bit compared with the first three Potter books.  

Following Harry through the tasks of the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and Ron and Hermione's developing new relationship was a delightful task.  Wondering what was going to happen next with the rise of Voldemort, and thinking about what it would be like to run into the strange professor Moody on a busy sidewalk in Texas made this book one that was hard to put down;  it' one of my favorite in the series thus far.  I must say I am glad that I am reading this series now rather than when it was popular I like reading the books without having seen all the movies its nice being able to picture some of the characters in my head; and having my own picture of them; sometimes the book really is better.  

'Quote An Author' Anchee Min taken from Red Azalea


“If you can't go back to your mother's womb, you'd better learn to be a good fighter.”
Anchee Min, Red Azalea

'Quote an author'

I've decided that I'm going to try to post a quote from an author everyday, it might reflect my mood or be just for fun, =). 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

By: J.K. Rowling

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary:  For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts...he's at Hogwarts."

Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

Review: In the third installment in the Harry Potter series Rowling drops Harry into his third year at Hogwarts after a difficult summer with his nasty relatives the Dursley's who give Harry a long and tiresome summer holiday filled with yelling, and an unpleasant visit from an aunt who gets more than she bargained for from the young wizard who does not deal well with ugly mutterings from a smug muggle (non-wizard or witch) about his parents.  

After an exciting exit from his Uncle's home Harry begins a school year at Hogwart's where he finds out that an escaped convict is after him, between this;  dark magic, Hermione getting a 'homicidal' new cat this is after Ron's mouse and trying to save one of Hagrid's skin crawling creatures from extinction, this Harry Potter book was my favorite one in the series thus far.  

Ideas for new series of books...

Hello everyone hope your all having a great weekend =) I have plenty of books to keep me reading for awhile but for the future I was going to ask if anyone had any series of books that they would recommend that they really enjoyed? I am planning on reading the Game of Thrones series, as well as some historical fiction books for a few online book groups that I joined, and some historical fic, books that I am personally interested in.  If anyone can recommend any other series of books or just great books in general I'd greatly appreciate it! =)


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By:  J.K. Rowling

<3 <3 <3 <3

Summary:  The Dursleys were so mean that hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects...Harry Potter himself?

Review:  In the second book of the Harry Potter series Rowling takes Harry back to Hogwarts in the form of a flying car that the Weasley boys "borrow" from their Father as they spirit Harry away from his evermore sour tempered relatives the Dursley's who would like nothing better than to see Harry magically make himself permanently disappear. In his new year at school Harry, and his two best friends face many new obstacles as they become detectives and sleuth around the spiraling stairways and dark corners of Hogwarts trying to figure out who is attacking students and leaving cryptic messages on the walls; One of them even being accused and another attacked! 

This installment in the series is full of adventure and kept me turning the pages, it was a bit fast  paced and the ending could have been spread out more, and explained in more detail as far as the details but in all I enjoyed the book, and am looking forward to continuing the series.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

By: J.K. Rowling

Summary: Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That's because he's being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he's really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

<3 <3 <3 <3

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the first book in a series of seven that tells the story of a young boy who is orphaned as a baby when his parents are killed by a dark wizard who tries to kill Harry too, but Harry survives the attack and all he is left with is a scar on his forehead that identifies him as the only living wizard known to be able to survive Voldemort.  After the attack as a baby is sent to live with his human or "muggle" relatives where for ten years, he is never told he is a wizard; and he receives harsh and cold treatment from them because they desperately want to fit into the "normal" world and Harry is anything but ordinary.  

Harry only finds out about his past ,his wizard lineage, and how his parents died, when he gets his letter from Hogwarts; an academy for young wizards and witches. Then the real adventure begins, as Harry discovers a world of magic, makes friends, and enters a world where instead of being invisible, he is a virtual celebrity and his name is known by every magical being he comes into contact with.  This was a charming first book to kick off the series and I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. The characters were very easy to picture as you read the book, and the plot was exciting enough that even if you had never heard of the movie or had an idea beforehand of what was going to happen you would want to continue to read because the story was very well written.

Hey Everyone...

I'm still reading the normal historical fiction, fiction and Christian fiction genre of books that I generally review on my blog but I've decided to also read and review the Harry Potter Series of books over the next few months, granted I am a few years late on this series, and they are a little outside what I might normally pick up to read, but I've always been curious about this series;  so here I go into the world of magic ;)

 (I am reading the Harry Potter Series while still reading books in my usual genres so while I am reading the Potter series in order the reviews for the series will be mixed in between reviews for other books)


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Katherine by Anchee Min

Katherine by Anchee Min

<3 <3 <3 

Summary: This novel, described by the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review as "nothing short of miraculous," is the story of Zebra Wong, a Chinese girl whose pragmatic mind conflicts with her passionate heart; Lion Head, her classmate, whose penchant for romantic intrigue belies his political ambitions, and Katherine, the seductive American with the red lipstick and the wild laugh who teaches them English and other foreign concepts: individualism, sensuality, the Beatles. In Katherine's classroom, repression and rebellion meet head-on-and the consequences are both tragic and liberating.

Review: The novel Katherine written by Anchee Min tells the story of a Chinese Girl "Zebra" living in China during the 1980's after the chaotic, and painful years of the Cultural Revolution in China during which the lifestyles of the rich were condemned and the peasants and the good of the people and modern knowledge were held up as the standard as well as Chairman Mao's teachings and beliefs. These philosophies led to many underground cruelties and a generation who was now living under a government who controlled almost every aspect of their lives, they were used to living in a restricted environment and with restricted emotions.

Into this world walks Katherine, an American in her thirties who has been married and divorced, who loves color, and dances to music and dares to speak her mind in a country where this is not only discouraged but it can get you arrested just to speak out against a party official.  Zebra; and her friends quickly come to both admire and yet at times hate their new teacher for her outgoing ways because she is the opposite of everything they have been taught to be and yet they yearn to be able to feel and act as freely as she does.  

With love triangles, arrests made in the middle of the night, and moments when you just want to cry along with the characters this is not a book that will lose your attention.  The writing was a little choppy at times for my taste, but overall it was a good read.

Mrs.Lincoln's Dressmaker

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker 

by: Jennifer Chiaverini

<3 <3 <3

Summary:In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.
In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style.

Review: In the novel Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker the story of Elizabeth Keckley unfolds; Elizabeth is a woman in her late thirties at the beginning of the novel who works for years to gain her and her sons freedom out of the cruel world of slavery.  After being a slave for thirty plus years she saves up enough money to buy her way to freedom and eventually finds herself in Washington working as a modiste or a dresser, and creator of fashions for the elite of society in Washington's higher circles. Her contacts will eventually lead her to Mary Todd Lincoln who will be one of her most challenging and yet rewarding clients.  

The plot line follows the two women's relationship as it progresses from when the Lincoln's first enter the white house, into the events of the Civil War, through Mrs. Lincoln's bad press reviews, the death of her sons, Mrs. Lincoln's bad spending habits which she gets bad press reviews for, into the hard won second election of President Lincoln, and his assassination.  Through the years it is interesting to look at these events through the eyes of two different women from totally different places in society, and to imagine how they might have dealt with the challenges they were facing. 

Overall the book for me gave a different perspective to Abraham Lincoln from Elizabeth Keckley's point of view that I'd never thought about before, and there were other historical details in the book that I learned about that definitely made it a worthwhile read for me, especially knowing that Elizabeth Keckley was a real woman, and did have similar experiences to those portrayed in the book.  It is one I would recommend to those interested in this time period in American history. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Painted Girls

The Painted Girls 

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

By Cathy Marie Buchanan

Summary: 1878 Paris. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir.

Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. There she meets a wealthy male patron of the ballet, but might the assistance he offers come with strings attached? Meanwhile Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde. 

Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural, and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.” In the end, each will come to realize that her salvation, if not survival, lies with the other.

Review: The Painted Girls tells the story of three sisters living in late 1800's Paris with a Mother addicted to absinthe, a dead Father and a society who predicts failure for them before they have even reached their majority.  Antoinette, the oldest meets a very dangerous young teenager, Emile who begins to lead her down a dark path away from her sisters and the world of honest wages and into the world of prostitution, prison, and onto a road that might separate her from her family permanently. 

Marie  (along with her sister Charlotte who is ten) who is fourteen is sent to the ballet to earn wages and to train to hopefully move up the ranks to eventually become a famous ballerina.  While there she attracts the eye of an artist and also takes on modeling for him to earn an extra wage to help feed her family.  As the story progresses Marie continues to look for ways to pay for her ballet lessons and feed her family that lead her down dark paths with a patron who says that he will support her but not for free and she finds that she must pay a huge price if she is to continue on with his support.  Antoinette also sees the dark side of life for a female in these times as she is thrust into the world of rich men, stealing, and selling her body to the highest bidder. 

This book looks at what women in the lower parts of society did to survive and to pull themselves up out of hard places in late 1800's Paris. It's an easily read narrative type viewpoint switching from Marie to Antoinette.  It was a very good book and one of my favorites so far this year.

Mother of the Believers

by: Kamran Pasha

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Summary: Deep in the heart of seventh-century Arabia, a new prophet named Muhammad has arisen. As his message of enlightenment sweeps through Arabia and unifies the warring tribes, his young wife Aisha recounts Muhammad's astonishing transformation from prophet to warrior to statesman. But just after the moment of her husband's greatest triumph -- the conquest of the holy city of Mecca -- Muhammad falls ill and dies in Aisha's arms. A young widow, Aisha finds herself at the center of the new Muslim empire and becomes by turns a teacher, political leader, and warrior.

Review: Mother of the Believers tells the story of Aisha one of the wives of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam who was a brilliant statesman, in both the political and military arenas.  The book follows the years of her childhood and her marriage with the prophet and covers the years of the religions earliest conception and its rise to power.  Its followers faced many hardships and prejudices but would eventually rise to power through the leadership of the prophet and the strong band of faithful followers he had behind him.

Aisha's life was not one of ease filled with luxury, and riches, the prophet expected his wives to give most of their belongings to the poor and to be examples to the people, and years into the marriage his harem of wives were expected to take up the veil and be separated from any men except close male relatives and the prophet himself; which was hard for Aisha to adjust to when she was used to freedom but was something she grew accustomed to.  

Aisha goes through many  hard times as the story unfolds, and even though this was quite a large book it was not one I wanted to put down.  Learning about the different customs, beliefs, and traditions of a different religion and culture was very interesting for me, and the way in which the author wrote the story itself was lyrical and beautiful.

Aisha's life is one that women of today can look at and still relate to, in that we are all struggling to do the best that we can with the gifts that we are given, and in the time that we live and to serve our God/live out our spiritual beliefs in the best way we can through helping others.

Friday, May 24, 2013

By Fire, By Water (a novel)

By Fire, By Water (a novel)

By Mitchell James Kaplan

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Summary: Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands.  But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.
   Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.

Review: Santangel is the chancellor to the court of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in a time when it is dangerous to be a converso, (convert from Judaism to Christianity specifically Catholicism) he is a third generation convert to Christianity through the Catholic church in a time when the Catholic Church still holds great sway in the population's everyday lives, homes, and personal convictions. Santangel must take desperate measures to try to protect those he holds most dear from the prying eyes of the  new inquisition in Spain.

 While researching the the truth about his past one of Santangel's intimate friend's learns the cost of being on the wrong side of religion in Catholic ruled Spain.  Santangel mixes his family up in a plot that brings the head of the new inquisition to his door specifically Torquemada, who is a inquisitor investigating the murder of a high ranking official; this causes tragedies and inquiries to unfold that will change multiple families lives forever in numerous ways.  

Judith a young Jewish woman living in Ferdinand and Isabella's kingdom find's the courage to help raise her nephew and  take care of his grandfather, after tragedy strikes.  Judith also learns how to do metal work and thus keeps the family business going in a time when women were expected to stay behind the scenes and shows remarkable courage in stepping forward in a country where there was prejudice against both her sex, and her religious beliefs.  The twist and turns in her story alone could have made a book themselves. 

Christopher Colon (Columbus would be the more well known name) is also interwoven throughout the story as a sailor and at one point asks the royals for a grant to go to the new world.  He is also involved with some of the plotting / mapping that related to the Hebrew writing (on a map and scrolls) that was connected to Santangel's family being accused of heresy because of their converso background.

The entire novel fit together like a beautiful manuscript.  I read it in a day, and could not put it down.  I usually read books that have more female characters then male, however this book is easy to relate to, well put together and VERY easy to recommend.  I love it.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

Love's First Bloom

By: Delia Parr
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Summary: Ruth Livingstone's life changes drastically the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her to a small village in New Jersey under an assumed name. There Ruth pretends to be a widow and quietly secludes herself until her father is acquitted of a crime. But with the emergence of the penny press, the imagination of the reading public is stirred, and her father's trial stands center stage. Asher Tripp is the brash newspaperman who determines that this case is the event he can use to redeem himself as a journalist. 

Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River--a place where she can find a measure of peace in the midst of the sorrow that continues to build. It is also here that Asher Tripp finds a temporary residence, all in an attempt to discover if the lovely creature known as Widow Malloy is truly Ruth Livingstone, the woman every newspaper has been looking for. Love begins to slowly bloom...but is the affection they share strong enough to withstand the secrets that separate them?

Review: Love's First Bloom tells the story of Ruth Livingstone who must leave her home in New York and relocate to a small town near New Jersey when her Father a minister is accused of the murder of one of the young prostitutes who he (her Father) helps in the ministry he runs helping the young fallen women of New York restart their lives in new places.  Ruth takes on a new identity, and takes care of the young murdered women's child.   As she adjusts to her new life Ruth must learn to rely on God, and the middle aged couple she is living with as she awaits the verdict in her Father's murder trial.

To cope with the stress of not seeing her Father and learning to care for a young child Ruth plants a garden, and in this pursuit meets a man named Jake who she suspects may have as many secrets as she does, and seems to be not altogether truthful.  As this story unfolded it was not always easy to connect with all the characters, and the flow was not always connected.  The end seemed to be almost smashed together.  The toddler Lily was my favorite character and was one of the reasons I continued to read the book.  If your looking for a sweet Christian historical type romance I'd recommend it, but it won't be on my top ten for the year.