"Mistress of the Court" is the second book in Laura Purcell's Georgian Queens series. This book is a standalone but I do suggest that you go back and"Mistress of the Court" is the second book in Laura Purcell's Georgian Queens series. This book is a standalone but I do suggest that you go back and read the first books in the series "Queen of Bedlam," because it is good historical fiction. This second book in the series takes on Henrietta Howard, a woman who becomes the unwilling (at least at first!) mistress to King George II. She and King George's wife, Caroline, are at the center of this story. This story brought to life two woman at the center of a very volatile time in British history.
I have not read a lot about the Georgian period of British royalty, particularly not in fiction. After enjoying "Queen of Bedlam," I was anxious to read this book. What I found was some interesting characters and a great story line. Princess Caroline understands that there are many things that she can control secondarily if she cannot control them primarily.Henrietta becoming her husband's mistress is one of those things. The way that the author writes about the dynamic between these two women is so interesting and makes for a really interesting power play that kept me entertained.
I really enjoyed visiting a new setting in this book. I love reading about British royalty and I liked the way that the author added detail to make the story really pop. I will be interested to see what the author comes out with next!...more
In "The Art of Crash Landing," we meet Matilda a.k.a. Mattie. She is an absolute mess. She's 30 years old and has yet to do anything with her life. ShIn "The Art of Crash Landing," we meet Matilda a.k.a. Mattie. She is an absolute mess. She's 30 years old and has yet to do anything with her life. She doesn't know what she wants and she suddenly finds herself pregnant and alone. She inherits her grandmother's house and begins to realize that she needs to pick up her own pieces of her life.
This is Mattie in a nutshell: "Most people would probably have a hard time totally f--king up their life in under an hour. But then again, I'm not most people. I'm amazing. I'm like some kind of f--kup savant." And I love her for it. This character definitely does not have it all together. She is sharp and hilarious and this often seems to get her into trouble. I loved following her through this book. Mattie feels like she could be a friend with the way that we readers are let into her life.
This author is a debut author and this book made me excited for what else the author might come out with. The writing of the book is good. Again, Mattie feels really real. I liked that the author chose to tell the story from Mattie's perspective. She gives Mattie a very real and very original voice that kept me entertained. This is a sparkling debut!...more
4.5 stars. "Pilgrimage" is the story of Gebirga of Flanders who has lost both of her parents. She feels a little bit adrift and isn't really sure what4.5 stars. "Pilgrimage" is the story of Gebirga of Flanders who has lost both of her parents. She feels a little bit adrift and isn't really sure what her life holds for her. The time is 12th century and therefore there not very many options open for women. She ends up joining a flighty young woman on a pilgrimage to Spain to follow the Way of St. James. This is a fascinating historical fiction that took me to a time and a place that I have seldom visited in my reading.
Characters are so important to me in my books! This book has a great main character! Not only is Gebirga a woman in a man's world, she is also blind which makes her life incredibly difficult during that time period. Her opportunities are even more limited because of what she cannot see. I loved this character. She is absolutely fascinating. The way that the author let us readers into her innermost thoughts really sold me on her. She's definitely a character that you're cheering for and hoping that everything will turn out well for throughout the book.
The writing of this book was good. Again, like I said before, I haven't read a whole lot of historical fiction set in the 12th-century and I really enjoyed getting to see the era through this book. The author includes a lot of historical detail that brought to life the pilgrimage that so many people took to travel to Spain, following the way of St. James. The idea of a pilgrimage is sort of foreign to me. I've read a little bit about them but I thought that the way that this book describes a pilgrimage with such detail really made me understand why people would be driven to go on a pilgrimage. The author makes Gerbirga's life come to life. This book is a treat for historical fiction fans! I am excited to see other books that the author comes out with in the future!...more
3.5 stars. "The Fragrant Concubine" is the story of Hidligh, a young woman who becomes mistress to China's emperor. The twist in the book comes when n3.5 stars. "The Fragrant Concubine" is the story of Hidligh, a young woman who becomes mistress to China's emperor. The twist in the book comes when not everything is as it first seems with her. She is asked to be a spy at the Emperor's court by Iparhan, a woman bent on getting even with the Emperor. She wants to use Hidligh to get her vengeance. The author uses a combination of myth and historical fact to weave a story of the fragrant concubine.
I love books set in places that I am not familiar with and with characters that are unlike others that I have read before. The setting was especially captivating to me. This book takes place in the 1700s in China, which is a time and location that I have not read much about. The author takes us into the court of the Emperor, a place that is filled with social rules and obligations. At first, Hidligh is not familiar with any of the rules she will have to follow. One of my favorite parts in the book is when Iparhan and her servants are trying to teach Hidligh how to be a proper lady.
The writing of the book was pretty good. I found myself wanting a little more action in some parts. There were a couple places where the narrative got a little long winded but for the most part, the book flowed nicely. I appreciated all of the historical detail that the author added to the book; it really pulled me into the story. Overall, this was a good read!...more
In "I Take You," Lily is supposed to be getting married to Will within the next week. Lily is nowhere close to being ready to settle down and she thinIn "I Take You," Lily is supposed to be getting married to Will within the next week. Lily is nowhere close to being ready to settle down and she thinks that this marriage thing might be a really bad idea seeing as how she jumps on any guy that comes across her path. This is a debut book that didn't quite hit the mark for me.
Characterization is important to me in a book. I don't necessarily need to like the characters but I need to understand at least where they are coming from. Lily is supposed to be a sassy and raunchy character; however, she comes across as insensitive and sort of juvenile. I just couldn't really understand why she treated people the way that she did throughout this book. She treats her fiancé badly. She treats her new in-laws badly. She treats her romantic conquests badly. She comes across as really immature. All we see is the insensitivity and nothing substantive. I was definitely looking for something more from her and definitely didn't get it.
There is a big plot twist in the book which I hated. I won't go into details in case you want to read it! Lily basically uses this twist to justify all of her bad behavior. It definitely didn't work for me. The plot twist felt a little unrealistic. This is a book about a lot of immature people.
I did like the setting of the book. Most of the book does take place in Key West, and some place I've always wanted to visit. The setting did meeting with the action a little bit and kept me reading. ...more
"Girl Waits with Gun" is the story of Constance Kopp, one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs. The book mostly takes place in the early 1900"Girl Waits with Gun" is the story of Constance Kopp, one of the country's first female deputy sheriffs. The book mostly takes place in the early 1900s with a couple flashbacks to the late 1800s. The book centers on Constance and her sisters mostly. The book starts with a bang as the sisters' buggy is hit by a really mean, slimy factory owner who doesn't want to pay for the damages. His unwillingness to pay sets off a chain of events that move this funny and witty historical fiction forward.
Constance is a fantastic character! I loved reading about her and I loved how the author brought her to life. Before reading this book, I was not familiar with Constance at all but I like the way that she was portrayed in this book and would love to read more about the real-life person. Constance definitely wants to be the master of her own destiny in a time when so many women really did not have that ability because of social norms. Constance seems to constantly be testing the boundaries and protecting her sisters. She is definitely a heroine that you can cheer for!
The writing of this book was really good. The author takes a true story that I don't think too many people know about and brings it to life. Constance is definitely an unsung hero of her time. This book only covers up to when she becomes a deputy sheriff (does that mean that there could maybe, possibly be a sequel???). The author obviously did a lot of research in order to not only make the readers see what Constance's world was like but also to bring the characters to life. The book is told from the perspective of Constance, which really brought me into the book. It's no wonder that this book is getting as much buzz as it has been getting!...more
In "Cold Feet," our protagonist, Emma, is the result of a not very good relationship. Her mother is a super career woman and an absent mother. Her fatIn "Cold Feet," our protagonist, Emma, is the result of a not very good relationship. Her mother is a super career woman and an absent mother. Her father has never been a part of her life. Emma loves her fiance but her chaotic family life makes her wonder if marriage is everything that she thinks it is. With her best friend, she'll embark on a journey to explore love and family.
The thing that really stood out to me in this book is that Emma's voice feels so authentic to me. There were a lot of places where I felt like Emma was talking to me as a friend. The author really brought me into the story with Emma's voice. Using the first person point of view worked so well for this one since Emma's inner thoughts and insecurities are so important to what happens in the book.
This weekend is my 5 year anniversary with my husband and I really thought the author did a great job of capturing what it's like to have all of these very intense thoughts prior to getting married. Smart people don't jump into things without carefully considering what they are doing. We get to see Emma confront things that so many others confront in real life!
This is a really smart look at self-discovery and love. The writing is sparkling and definitely kept me entertained. I read this book very quickly and wanted more. I will be awaiting other things that come out from this author....more
3.5 stars. "Dream Things True" is a Romeo and Juliet-esque story about two very different teenagers. Evan is the all-American boy. He has everything h3.5 stars. "Dream Things True" is a Romeo and Juliet-esque story about two very different teenagers. Evan is the all-American boy. He has everything he has ever dreamed about. His family is also quite socially conservative. Alma is an undocumented girl from a Mexican family. They fall for each other very quickly but things are not easy for them. ICE raids their town and everything they know will change. This book is a ripped from the headlines young adult fiction!
The author uses the characters as the driver of a conversation about immigrant issues and how everything is not always as clear cut as some of our politicians would like us to think it is. This book provides a good start to learning about some of the issues that affect our country today.
I did like the main characters. I liked how the author was able make them feel real. The secondary characters are a real treat. I especially liked Alma's tight knit family. The author gives a lot of detail about them so that even the secondary characters stand out!
I love what this book was trying to do with bringing a timely social issue to the attention of young adults. This book is definitely informative but sometimes the narrative suffered a little because it seemed as if the author was trying to cram so much information into the book that the book got bogged down. There were definitely a few places in the book that felt like an information dump of sorts, which took me out of the story. This book is definitely a good example though of how even fiction can be educational (something that I have always known!!!).
4.5 stars. "House of Thieves" is the story of the Cross family, a well to do family living in the late 1800s in the middle of New York City. On the su4.5 stars. "House of Thieves" is the story of the Cross family, a well to do family living in the late 1800s in the middle of New York City. On the surface, the family looks to be a upstanding family, however, they hide a lot of dark secrets. Each member of the family is involved with some of the crime facing the city at the time. They all hide this from each other and begins to affect off of their relationships.
This is the second book from Charles Belfoure. I loved his first book so I was definitely looking forward to reading this book. I think I may have like this one even more. It was so interesting to me to see how the family got twisted up in some of the sordid activity is happening throughout the city. This family goes through great lengths to keep up appearances but are not above committing crimes in order to get what they want. I liked following each of the members of the family and liked how well developed the characters were!
Like I said before, each member of the family is involved with crime. I think the most interesting character is John Cross, who is an architect to uses his clients houses and the plans that he developed for them in order to help one of the my bosses of the city proper houses. He is such a complex character because on one hand he doesn't want to commit these crimes but he definitely gets caught up in all of it. I loved reading about him!
The writing of this book was great. Belfoure has a fantastic way of taking historical detail and weaving it so well into the story that you hardly realize how much detail he's packing in. He is able to world build well so that the reader knows exactly what the Cross family's life is like and everything that they're experiencing. This book is a real treat for historical fiction fans!
"Little Woman in Blue" is the story of May Alcott, sister of Louisa, who is the author of "Little Women" (one of my very favorites). She became very f"Little Woman in Blue" is the story of May Alcott, sister of Louisa, who is the author of "Little Women" (one of my very favorites). She became very famous for it and what I didn't realize is that a lot of the inspiration for the book came from Louisa's own life. The book leaves a sour taste in May's mouth as she doesn't like how here character, Amy, is portrayed. This is a look at the complex relationship of sisterhood with all of its love and rivalry.
I was drawn to this book because I love "Little Women." I love how historical fiction can give you a great introduction to some really interesting lives. Also I'm fascinated by stories of sisters. I have two sisters who are the most incredible sisters and friends that I could ever ask for and I feel very lucky that I have them. May and Louisa don't have nearly as loving relationship. They care for each other but there is a lot of sibling rivalry between them. They both want very different things in life and to some degree they both seem to judge each other what they do and do not want out of life. The author gets us super close to their lives and the characters, especially May and Louisa begin to feel like friends.
I didn't know much about Louisa May Alcott's life or her family before reading this book. I definitely did not realize that May was an artist in her own right. I loved getting to know all of them through this book. The author's historical facts was really wonderful and kept me entertained and turning the pages. I will definitely be reading more by this author in the future!...more
"All the Difference" follows two different storylines as Molly has a choice to either say yes when her boyfriend proposes on New Year's Eve. Alternati"All the Difference" follows two different storylines as Molly has a choice to either say yes when her boyfriend proposes on New Year's Eve. Alternating chapters of the book follow what happens when she says yes and what happens when she says no. This book is a lot like "Sliding Doors," a romantic comedy movie that I really like. That sort of dichotomy between different decisions makes for a great storyline in this book. Who doesn't wonder about how their life would end up differently if they made a different decision?
Molly is a great character. She is incredibly confident and thinks that she knows what she wants. Her relationship with her boyfriend Scott is sort of a dead-end relationship and she knows it but for some reason she keeps hanging on hoping something will change. When he finally proposes, Molly has just found out that she's pregnant and she has to make a decision that will affect her life and the life of her child. I really liked how the author was able to get into Molly's head even though this was told from the third person perspective. I still feel like I got to know the characters really well, which is always important to me!
The premise of the book is just so interesting. Yes, it's been done before in other stories and other movies but I think as humans, some of us wonder about what would happen if we said yes when we said no and vice versa. I know that I myself always wonder that. I think a lot of people will find common ground with the decisions that Molly has to make. Overall, this book was a good read and I really enjoyed the story! I know I'm going to be thinking about this one for a long time....more
"The Gilded Hour" is a new historical fiction offering from Sara Donati, author of the "Wilderness" series, which I would now really like to read. In"The Gilded Hour" is a new historical fiction offering from Sara Donati, author of the "Wilderness" series, which I would now really like to read. In this book, she takes us to 1880s New York and into the lives of Anna and Sophie Savard. Anna is a physician and so is Sophie, but she is also a "free woman of color," which adds another layer of complexity to her life. This book has a lot of intrigue and weaves an intimate picture of some fascinating characters.
The story focuses on the women as they try to make a living in the rapidly changing New York City. Through their work, they put themselves in the sights of Anthony Comstock, author of the Comstock Act, which banned sending items such as erotica and contraceptives through the U.S. Postal Service. Because of some of the procedures that the women perform, they are targets. It was fascinating to me to see how far acts like the Comstock Act went in the name of legislating morality. I actually did not know much about the Comstock Act before this book.
This book is not merely about the politics and morality at the time. There is a huge part of the story arc that has to do with one of the cousins' patients that was endlessly fascinating to me. The book also has a family aspect as well as a romantic aspect. There is something for everyone!
This book is quite long at over 700 pages. Some parts could definitely be slimmed down such as some of the parts where the author gave a little bit too much detail about what various characters were thinking. There were some cases of telling instead of showing here, which bogged down the story. Overall, though, the story was interesting and kept me entertained. I am looking forward to reading more by this author!...more
3.5 stars. "The Sisters of Versailles" takes place during the reign of France's King Louis XV. As much as I read about French and French royalty I rea3.5 stars. "The Sisters of Versailles" takes place during the reign of France's King Louis XV. As much as I read about French and French royalty I really don't know too much about this Louis. Usually, it seems that Louis XIV and Louis XVI seem to be favored subjects for historical fiction. This book talks about a set of sisters where four out of the five sisters become mistresses to Louis XV. The book is told through the perspective of all five of the sisters as well as letters that they write back and forth to each other. There also some letters from their aunt who kind of takes care of them. This book is the first in the new trilogy on these five sisters.
I like that this book was able to capture the personalities and the relationships in between all of the sisters so that we can understand their motivations and how they feel about each other. Obviously, because they have relationships with the king, there is a lot of tension with the sisters and a good dose of competitiveness. I did think that some parts of the book could be slimmed down a little bit in order to get this story to go a little bit faster. There were places in the book that got a little too bogged down in details for me.
The beginning and end of the book are told from the perspective of Hortense, the only sister who doesn't become one of the King's mistresses. I thought this was an interesting touch. Overall, I really liked reading about this little nugget of history and I'm interested to see where this trilogy goes....more
In "Decorum," Francesca is suddenly orphaned as a young adult and this leaves her with a whole bunch of money. Since it's the late 1800s, as a woman sIn "Decorum," Francesca is suddenly orphaned as a young adult and this leaves her with a whole bunch of money. Since it's the late 1800s, as a woman she is not seen as being able to take care of herself and mind her money so she has a couple suitors vying for her hand in marriage but not for necessarily altruistic reasons.
I was interested in reading this book because I haven't read a whole lot set in the late 1800s and New York City is always an interesting setting to me, particularly when it comes to historical fiction. This novel is intricate and complex and standing at about 420 pages, it's quite long as well. Long books are fine but I did find myself wishing that some parts of this book had been slimmed down a little bit in order to keep the story moving as it seemed to bogged down in detail a little bit.
As I mentioned, women during this time did not have a whole lot of power and a lot of the underlying story revolves around Francesca simply having to bow to society and the unspoken rules that society of the time demanded. Each book or each chapter is introduced with a section of a book entitled "Decorum" which tells how those and high society are supposed to act during that time. It was very eye-opening to me! I also must mention that I had a hard time warming up to either of the love interests in the book as their motives didn't always seem to stand up for me.
Overall, I thought this was a interesting take on what it was like to be a woman at the time. ...more
"The Paris Key" is the story of Genevieve, who is running away from her marriage after her husband has an affair. She's heartbroken and she thinks tha"The Paris Key" is the story of Genevieve, who is running away from her marriage after her husband has an affair. She's heartbroken and she thinks that getting back to the city that her mother fell in love with and taking over her uncle's locksmith shop might just be the trick to getting her life back on track. Genevieve can barely speak French when she arrives in Paris but slowly she begins to build a life for herself and begins to unravel the mystery of what happened to her mother in Paris.
This book is the story of family, love, and family secrets. This book started off a little bit shaky for me and throughout the book there were places where I felt that the author told a little bit too much and gave a little bit too much detail which gummed up some of the narrative. Luckily for me there were only a couple places like that and in general, the storytelling was very good. I was entranced by the story of Angela, Genevieve's mother, and how she fell in love in Paris. I don't want to give anything away about Angela's love story because that makes a huge crux of the story arc. The story is definitely originally when it comes to Angela's story, which I appreciated.
Paris is definitely one place that I love to read about. I would love to visit someday and this book had me wishing that even more. I thought that the author gave a really unique look at Paris in the present day as well as Paris in the more recent past. Overall, I thought this was a good story and I read it pretty quickly!...more
"The Gates of Rutherford" is a historical fiction look at life during World War I. It is a companion book to "Rutherford Hall." This book reminds me a"The Gates of Rutherford" is a historical fiction look at life during World War I. It is a companion book to "Rutherford Hall." This book reminds me a lot of shows like "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey." In "The Gates of Rutherford" there is still a huge cast and much of it centers on a new marriage where the couple wasn't really sure what they want out of it. World War I is raging in the lives of the people in the book are caught up in it.
Ensemble casts work well for television and movies. They don't always work so well for books. While I enjoyed the setting of this book and the time period, I found it very hard to follow along with the stories in the book. There are a lot of characters and I felt like I never could get very close to them.
There are some but some stories that I was very into such as the one about the German prisoner but there were other stories where I felt like I didn't we get to know the characters very well and therefore wasn't as interested. This book is not all that long either so there isn't really a lot of detail about each of the characters in many ways, this book feels like a slice of life about people who are dealing with World War I in Europe. You get a taste of the characters but I found myself wanting more. That being said there storylines are still very interesting and kept me reading. Overall, this book was a mixed bag for me....more
"Local Girls" is the story of three very close friends who live in their small Florida town after graduating from high school. This is the town that t"Local Girls" is the story of three very close friends who live in their small Florida town after graduating from high school. This is the town that they've grown up where they know everyone and that's not always a good thing. In a lot of ways these girls have not outgrown that sort of pettiness and cattiness that affect so many friendships from high school.
I never really had any friendships like this but I had a lot of friends who went through some of the same things these girls go through where there's a perceived issue and no one ever wants to talk about it. This is what happens to Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina and their once friend Lila. In one night these girls will finally confront what broke their friendship apart and realize that maybe they need to get out of their small town and experience something more. This was a book that I have gotten through the Book-of-the-Month club, which all talk about a little bit later in this post. This book has gotten a lot of buzz this summer so I was excited to read it
One night in their small local bar, the girls meet a celebrity, Sam. Sam is one of the hottest actors in Hollywood and the girls can't believe that they came he came to their small backwater town. This is also the same night where they figure out what went wrong with their friendship with Lila. The issue is really a misunderstanding overall and therefore the arc seemed a bit melodramatic to me. Maggie is telling this story as an adult, which means that some of the things that she talks about don't seem to ring true. It was hard to feel for these girls.
The book only barely covers one night and it's stuck in a place where you have to put yourself in the mindset of the characters as what they're dealing with seems so like not really a big deal in the scheme of things. Overall, I like the writing style of the book but struggled to understand fully where the characters were coming from....more
In "Dryland," Julie is a teenage girl who decides to take up swimming. It's something that she has never really shown an interest in before even thougIn "Dryland," Julie is a teenage girl who decides to take up swimming. It's something that she has never really shown an interest in before even though her brother was an absolutely amazing swimmer and in a way she uses swimming to try to get closer to her brothers memory. Her brother has disappeared and Julie can't really put together what happened to him. Within this book, she'll figure out not only what happened to him but how it affects the way that she thinks about her family and about her own life. This is a powerful book with a unique voice.
This book is set in 1992 in Portland, Oregon. The time of the book is very important to keep in mind as you're reading as the way that people thought about AIDS at the time was vastly different than how they think about it now. I lived through the 90s but I was a young kid at the time and didn't always understand everything that was going on so it was interesting to see the time period in a book.
Julie is a very interesting character. Not only is she dealing with the disappearance of her brother and trying to take on swimming; she is also dealing with her first real crush on Alexis, one of the girls who gets her to join swimming in the first place. Julie doesn't really know how to deal with her feelings because she is unsure what it'll mean if she admits that she has feelings for another girl. I thought the author did a really good job of capturing what it would be like to go through a crush like that where the object of Julie's affection is in many ways messing with Julie's mind. It was hard to read but it was very realistic. This is truly a coming of age story where the character evolves from where she was at the beginning.
I also must mention that I really liked that the book included swimming. I swam in high school and some of my fondest memories from high school involve swim team. It's where I made some really good friends and had some really fun memories. My specialty event was even the 500m like Julie does in the book (luckily, I am a better swimmer than Julie was!!!).
Overall, I really enjoyed this book is they gave me a glimpse back to a time that I don't often read much about. The writing is incredibly vivid and allowed me to see what Julie was going through end to see her true feelings. I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for a YA book that is a little bit off the beaten path....more
"The Beautiful American" is the story of Nora, an American girl that follows her sweetheart overseas to Paris during the Roaring 20s. It's there that"The Beautiful American" is the story of Nora, an American girl that follows her sweetheart overseas to Paris during the Roaring 20s. It's there that she meets up with her childhood friend, Lee Miller. Before reading this book I had heard of Lee Miller but I didn't really know too much about her. Lee Miller is a female photographer and model who worked with the likes of Man Ray and Pablo Picasso. She did a lot of surrealist photography and was a larger-than-life character. She is a secondary character is this book.
What's interesting about this book is that Nora, the main character, is a fictional character but she interacts with many different real-life historical figures. Nora becomes a vehicle to tell the stories of Weymiller and some of man Ray and Pablo Picasso. Nora is an interesting character but the artists are more interesting. I kept finding myself wanting to get back to Lee, who is such a huge figure in this book. She is definitely an interesting second character character and I found my self drawn more to her than to Nora.
The pacing of this book threw me off a little. I know that the author can't include every single detail but the timeline in this book felt a little disjointed. The author starts out with our characters in 1920s Paris, which was a haven for artist and other creative types at the time. I loved reading about the city at this time; it seems very interesting to me. The other big chunk of the book covers after World War II. The author made the decision not to cover very much at all as to what happens to the characters during World War II. The characters are mainly in Paris and other areas around France so conceivably the war would've affected them. However, we never really see what happens to them. It made me feel like I was missing a big chunk of understanding the characters a little bit more as they went through such a big event like World War II. That definitely took me out of the book a little bit.
Overall, the writing of the book kept me entertained and I really did love learning more about Lee Miller. I did wish that the narrative was a little bit more evenly spread between the big events of the book. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future!...more
3.5 stars. In "Confucius Says," Cary and her husband, Steve, are confronted with having to move her aging parents into her house. Cary is very used to3.5 stars. In "Confucius Says," Cary and her husband, Steve, are confronted with having to move her aging parents into her house. Cary is very used to living on her own terms and her parents upend all of her carefully laid out plans and schedules. She quickly becomes frustrated when her parents don't seem to appreciate what she is doing for them. She will eventually learn that it isn't enough to simply offer a place to stay and that she will have to commit to doing more.
This is an issue that confronts so many people. Eventually parents get old and it often falls to the children to step in and take care of them. I'm currently watching this happen with my parents and my grandmother and it is incredibly difficult. The author did a good job of illustrating the strange sorting out of a new balance of power that a parent - child relationship has to go through in order to find a relationship that works for everyone. I really liked how realistic the author made this relationship change feel!
The book is told from multiple points of view, which did get a little confusing. Some parts were told from Cary's first person point of view, which I enjoyed the most because it allowed me to get close to the characters. Other parts are told from the third person point of view, either looking at Cary's parents' relationship with each other or Cary and Steve's relationship. It was a little difficult to have the point of view switch as it took me out of the story a little bit.
Overall, I liked this story. It's a realistic and heartfelt look at how families change as the years go on....more
3.5 stars. "Tales of Byzantium: A Selection of Short Stories" is a collection of three historical fiction stories set in and around some of the figure3.5 stars. "Tales of Byzantium: A Selection of Short Stories" is a collection of three historical fiction stories set in and around some of the figures of Byzantium. Each of these stories are different and they cover some of the rulers as well as others who left their fingerprints on the era. The author uses a lot of great historical detail in order to bring each of the characters at the center of each of these three stories to life.
My favorite story was probably the last one, which covers Anna Comenena, a woman who is being punished for seeking to overtake her brother's throne, which she feels is rightfully hers. I did not know much about Anna Comenena or the other characters in these stories and this book really whet my appetite to read more about the Byzantines! I love when one book can lead you to wanting to read more on the subject!
The writing of the book was very good. I think one issue with short stories is that there can be the temptation to dump information in order to bring the reader up to speed. There was a little bit of that done here and it bogged down the narrative a little bit. That being said, the historical detail that was included is great and interesting. I just wish that the stories have been a little bit longer to spread all of the information out so it didn't feel like information was simply being dumped on the reader. It's clear that the author did a lot of thorough research into her subject.
Although the stories were great, I especially enjoyed the author's notes that are found at the end of each story. The author gives a little bit of context as to who the historical figures that she was talking about are and what happened to them. It gave me a greater appreciation for the characters that she chose to write about. I would love to see what this author does in the future, perhaps in a longer form novel!...more
"Naked" is the story of Lady Godiva, who is most commonly known for riding through her small town of Coventry naked on a horse with only her hair to c"Naked" is the story of Lady Godiva, who is most commonly known for riding through her small town of Coventry naked on a horse with only her hair to cover herself. This lady is truly a legend and one that has fascinated so many people, historical fiction and history lovers alike. I'm always fascinated by this story so I was really interested in the author's take on Lady Godiva. Not many facts are about her but the author is able to take what we know and expound on it and create a really rich and wonderfully detailed story.
When it comes to historical fiction, I think that it can be difficult for authors to have too many facts. I also think it can be difficult for authors to have too few details. In the case of Lady Godiva, a lot is unknown about her and the author was able to create a very realistic character and some memorable secondary characters. I really appreciated the way that the author was able to make the legend come to life. In the beginning of the book, the author includes a historical note which explains what is known and what is unknown about the legend of Lady Godiva. It really set the stage for me as a reader and I love to see the author's thought process about the story.
Lady Godiva is such an interesting character to me. She lives in a world where women do not have much authority at all and she realizes that. However, in a lot of ways she doesn't let that fact constrained her. She feels duty-bound to take care of the people under her. Her husband is the one who dares to ride through the center of town naked in order to prove her mettle and conviction. I really liked how the author was able to make Godiva feel real. The book is told from the first person point of view which pulled me right into the story.
I really enjoyed this take on Lady Godiva. The author definitely had me interested in learning more about the legend. Historical fiction lovers will love this take on this familiar story. The other puts a brand-new spin on an old favorite!...more
There are a lot of readers out there who find a certain kind of story that they like and they want to stick to it. That's all fine and good but that hThere are a lot of readers out there who find a certain kind of story that they like and they want to stick to it. That's all fine and good but that has never been me. If I read something, I'm looking for a completely different story the next time. The more original a story is, the better. The synopsis of "The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster" sounded interesting to me and definitely off the beaten path, but when I opened this book, I was blown away by how unforgettable the storyline was. This book is perfect for those who are looking for a book that's fully engaging and will stick with you for very long time!
Reading a lot of historical fiction, I'm very used to the trope of letters connecting the present to the past. In the case of Annie, she finds that she can send letters back to a 1890s farmhouse in the middle of Kansas and that Elsbeth can send letters to her from 1890s Kansas to present-day San Francisco. This book uses many magical realism to make Annie and Elsbeth's worlds feel like something that could actually happen. Magical realism continues to be one of my favorite additions to any book and this book has it in spades!
Not only is the story wholly original but the characters are really interesting as well. Annie is incredibly quirky and incredibly smart. She has always felt like an outsider but feeling like an outsider has made her more open to the idea of things not always being the way that they seem originally. Some of the secondary characters also made this book memorable. The author does a great job of using detail in order to make the characters jump off of the page.
There's so many twists and turns in this book and it really kept me on my toes. Every page added a little bit something new to the mystery of what was going on with Annie and Elsbeth's mailboxes. Although that is the main arc, the author had a great way of adding other details and issues to make the characters feel like real people with real lives. This is an incredibly inventive story and I know that I will be thinking about the story for a long time. Although I won't be looking for another book just like this one as I don't like to read the same thing twice, but this book what gives me hope that there are other original stories out there just waiting to be found!...more
"No Comfort for the Lost" is a historical mystery set in San Francisco during a time when there was a lot of racial tension between white people and C"No Comfort for the Lost" is a historical mystery set in San Francisco during a time when there was a lot of racial tension between white people and Chinese people. There was a lot of distrust between the various groups that called San Francisco their home. Our heroine, Celia, knows that the Chinese need medical care so she uses her expertise to help where few of her race and sex venture to go. Celia finds herself trying to solve the murder of a Chinese woman that she cared for. If no one else will do it, she feels that it is up to her. Celia is definitely my kind of character! She is so independent and sharp! Alongside Nick, a detective, Celia will discover that nothing is ever clear cut and few things are the way you expect them to be!
I really like this book because there were so many twists and turns and it kept me guessing. I don't read a lot of mysteries but when I do I like for them to keep me on my toes and keep me second-guessing what I think is going on. This book did that from page to page. I had to keep reading with a sense of urgency because of the mystery at hand!
I also really liked the historical setting of the book. San Francisco is an incredibly interesting city with a lot of history. I like that the author took on the city it during a time where it was so greatly divided. The author uses a lot of good detail that drew me into the story and helped me to understand what the world was like for the characters. The city itself makes for a lot of interesting interactions with the various characters. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those looking for great characters and a mystery that will keep you on your feet....more
Amelia is an up-and-coming actress who takes on the role that Audrey Hepburn had in the very famous movie, "Roman Holiday." Amelia is escaping from aAmelia is an up-and-coming actress who takes on the role that Audrey Hepburn had in the very famous movie, "Roman Holiday." Amelia is escaping from a horrible ex-boyfriend who doesn't seem to understand what she wants out of life. While she knows that this film is could be her big break, she is also interested in trying to mend her broken heart. Enter Philip, a journalist, that Amelia falls for. She assumes that he doesn't know who she is and she wants to keep herself anonymous so she builds a backstory about being a maid at a Roman hotel. Philip quickly realizes who she is actually and can't understand why she's trying to hide who she is. This is a fun romance in a fun city that feels like a old Hollywood movie!
Although there are some moments of spiciness in this book, in a lot of ways, this feels like a throwback to some of the more innocent Hollywood romance movies of the yesteryears. You have a woman who wants her identity mistaken and a handsome gentleman who's trying to get out from under the heavy-handed of his very rich father. Another reason that it feels like the old Hollywood romance movie is because the premise is not all that believable. This isn't to say anything bad about the story but you will need a little bit of suspension of disbelief in order to follow through with the story. To me, it seemed a little unreasonable that Amelia thought that nobody would recognize her when she is a young upcoming starlet who seems to be major fodder for all of the tabloids.
I would be remiss to mention the setting. You also have a wonderful setting in Rome, one of my most favorite cities. The setting is to die for. The author did a great job of capturing the romance of Rome between the descriptions of the cobblestone streets and all of the really amazing, delicious descriptions of the various food that the characters eat throughout. The food itself could be another character, which totally makes sense for place like Rome!
Overall, I really enjoyed the romance of this book. This is a fun light read that I know what I'm going to want to go back to. It definitely seems like a good comfort read to me!...more
"The Best of Enemies" is the latest by Jen Lancaster. This is a fiction book of hers. I was looking forward to reading some of her fiction as I enjoye"The Best of Enemies" is the latest by Jen Lancaster. This is a fiction book of hers. I was looking forward to reading some of her fiction as I enjoyed her nonfiction memoirs so immensely. Lancaster is absolutely hilarious in her memoirs and that carries across in her fiction as well.
This book is about Jack, Betsy, and Kitty. Jack and Betsy have been friends since they were children and Kitty and Betsy have been friends since college. All three go to the same college where Jack and Kitty have a huge falling out but both remain friends with Betsy. When Betsy's husband suddenly dies, it brings Kitty and Jack together although something seems to be a little off with the way that he died. Part mystery, part madcap adventure, part rumination on what it means to be a friend and why we stay friends with the people we stay friends with. This is a hilarious book with lots of twists and turns.
Again, I'm already a huge fan of Jen Lancaster but this is the first one of her fiction books that I've read, I believe. So many of the things I liked about her memoirs seem to be present in this book. There is sparkling dialogue and hilarious stories. There's also a lot of heart. It was so easy for me to get into the book. Lancaster has a really great way of bringing characters to life.
It was easy for me to fall for these characters because they feel really realistic. I like the way that Lancaster portrayed friendship in this book. You have the friends that you know you're going to be friends with for forever and you also have people that you just have falling outs with where you can never really figure out what went wrong.
The premise of this book is definitely off the beaten path. I'm not particularly sure how realistic it is, however it's incredibly fun. This is the kind of book that you set aside an afternoon to read because you know that you're going to be incredibly engaged laughing with and at the characters. Overall, this was a immensely fun book and I'm looking forward to reading more of Lancaster's fiction. ...more
4.5 stars. "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" is a book that has been getting a lot of buzz the summer. I was excited to read it but I always have a litt4.5 stars. "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" is a book that has been getting a lot of buzz the summer. I was excited to read it but I always have a little bit of trepidation when it comes to books that are getting tons and tons of accolades before they even come out and seemingly come from nowhere. Is it real buzz or is it just a hot whiff of marketing air? In the case of this book, the accolades are definitely earned. I didn't quite know what to expect when I opened this book but I got a great reading experience with the story that engaged me from the very beginning. Each chapter tells the story of a recipe and an inter-related character.
It's sort of hard to describe what's going on in this book because there is so much and it covers such a wide swath of years. This is not to say that the book is disjointed at all! Most of this story focuses on Eva, a girl who is never felt like she is fit in with her family and Iowa. As a teenager she figures out that she has an incredibly palate and believes that she is destined to become a great chef. This book is filled with family, family secrets, and great food. There are recipes sprinkled throughout the book that go along with the things that are being discussed in the book.
It's really a treat to be so engaged by a story. This story is very original. I really like that the way that the author is able to make the characters, even the secondary characters feel so fullly realized and so 3-D. To me, a mark of a good book is when you like the characters so much that you want to know more about them not because the author hasn't given enough detail but because you don't want the book to end and to have to step away from the characters! I know that these characters and the storyline are going to stick with me for a very long time....more
"Movie star by Lizzie Pepper" by Hilary Liftin is a faux celebrity memoir that has flavors of so many of those celebrity couples whose faces and combi"Movie star by Lizzie Pepper" by Hilary Liftin is a faux celebrity memoir that has flavors of so many of those celebrity couples whose faces and combined names (TomKat, Brangelina, etc.) grace the likes of People and US Weekly. I've definitely been fascinated by that world and so I was looking forward to reading this book. It's fascinating to me that the author decided to write a faux celebrity memoir but what makes it even more interesting is that the author partially started her writing career as a ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs so she knows where she's going. As she put it, Lizzie Pepper would be her dream client!
Lizzie Pepper is a middle-of-the-road actress until she meets Rob Mars, one of the most eligible bachelors in Hollywood. Lizzie falls for Rob quickly and thinks that what they have is real but she slowly starts to realize that their fairytale is anything but a fairytale and all the things she loved about their relationship have a really cheap veneer. The book is written from Lizzy's perspective which I really liked because it allowed me to get into her head and to understand what she was going through.
This book is for those who are intrigued by the world of celebrity like I am. I love reading serious books but you can also find me scanning the tabloids in the grocery store checkout line. I loved the Hollywood insider flavor of this novel. The cool thing about this book is that because it is a faux celebrity memoir, we get closer to the elusive Hollywood world more than any other real celebrity memoir would allow us to get. Overall, this is a fun read that engaged me from the very beginning....more
"Torn" is a new adult fiction about Chloe, who hasn't always had the easiest life. Her mother has been in and out of her life and always seems to come"Torn" is a new adult fiction about Chloe, who hasn't always had the easiest life. Her mother has been in and out of her life and always seems to come back just to stir up trouble. She finds herself at WVU with her two best friends including Logan, who she has feelings for her but has never acted on in order to not ruin their friendship. Chloe then meets Drake, the cool lead singer of a band, and falls for him quickly. This forces Logan to announce his feelings and Chloe will find herself torn between the dangerous choice, Drake, and the safe choice, Logan.
There aren't really any surprises in this book. Sometimes you don't need surprises in order for a book to still be enjoyable. The new adult genre is still new to me but I have a lot of fun reading books from it. Because I could see exactly where the book was going and there were no surprises, this book felt a little less exciting for me but it was still entertaining. I really liked how the author was able to create to such different choices for Chloe. Both are incredibly sexy in their own way but completely different from each other. It's easy to see why she was so torn between them. Add to the story the droma with Chloe's mom and I ate this book up. This book is one of those books that would be perfect for the last dredges of summer or whenever you find yourself on vacation....more
2.5 stars. "About a Girl" is the story of Tally, a very smart and very independent 18-year-old who seems very happy in her New York City home. She was2.5 stars. "About a Girl" is the story of Tally, a very smart and very independent 18-year-old who seems very happy in her New York City home. She was adopted and is very happy with her family but it is interested in her past and to see if she can find out who she really is. This book is the third book in Sarah McCarry's Metamorphoses series. Each of these books focuses on a present-day story based on mythology. You definitely don't need to read the first two books in this series in order to understand what is going on with this book. This book is based on the myth of Atalanta, a myth that I was not familiar with before reading this book. I do suggest getting familiar with the myth before you read this book in order to understand it better. Eventually there is a little more of an explanation but it doesn't come until about the last third of the book.
The story itself was a little bit hard for me to get into. Tally goes in search of her father but by the end of the book we still don't really know much about him or Tally's origins other than she was abandoned by her mother. While Tally is on the other side of the country trying to figure out who she is, she falls for Maddy, a mysterious woman who has a hidden past. Again, I wish that I had a little bit more of a background in mythology and then maybe I would've understood where the story was going out little bit more.
One thing that I really enjoyed it about this book is that Tally's voice is very original. Tally is very sure that she wants to be an astronomer and she is extremely smart. The way that the author wrote her character was wholly original and I really did like her voice. I wish that I had liked this book a little bit more. I like that the author chose to use mythology and put a present day spin on it. I will definitely try other books by this author but the story was not my favorite!...more