"Rodin's Lover" is the latest release from Heather Webb, author of "Becoming Josephine." It is a historical fiction take on Camille Claudel, a woman w"Rodin's Lover" is the latest release from Heather Webb, author of "Becoming Josephine." It is a historical fiction take on Camille Claudel, a woman who dreams of being a famous sculptor. Unfortunately for her, she lives during a time where women are not supposed to be artists and her mother is more interested in making a good love match with an appropriate gentleman. Enter Auguste Rodin, the famous sculptor. Camille finds him endlessly intriguing and falls under his spell. It is not easy to be with him though! This is a passionate tale of love and art that I ate up!
I really enjoyed this story. I was excited to read it after having read "Becoming Josephine." Much of what I liked about that story was present in "Rodin's Lover." Webb spins a great story about art and love and the way that they intersect with each other. It is apparent that Webb spent a great deal of time researching to bring Camille and Auguste as well the rest of the characters to life. I also really loved the setting of Paris. Camille's Paris is a quickly evolving world filled with artists and thinkers
The characters really drive this story and they pulled me into the narrative quickly. These are characters that you want to follow because Webb writes them in such a way that you really care about them. Camille especially felt real to me. Before reading this book, I don't think that I knew a single thing about her. She is such a great character, definitely one that is well ahead of her time. I also really liked the love story between Auguste and Camille. It's full of heat, desire, and storminess. I loved reading about how things evolved between them. I did wish there was a little more about Rodin himself in the book. The story really focuses on Camille alone and Camille and Auguste together but not really on Auguste alone.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. My fellow historical fiction fans will find so much to love about this book. I am anxiously awaiting Webb's next release....more
3.5 stars. At its core, "Secrets of a Charmed Life" is a story of sisters and secrets. Set during World War II in England, this historical fiction boo3.5 stars. At its core, "Secrets of a Charmed Life" is a story of sisters and secrets. Set during World War II in England, this historical fiction book focuses on the London evacuation of children during the war. Emmy and Julia are two of those children to be evacuated. Older Emmy sees an opportunity to carve out a new life for herself, separate from the difficult life she had growing up. It may mean leaving some things behind though and she is not sure that she is ready to leave the past behind. This book mostly follows Emmy's journey.
This book started out a little stiffly to me but really hit it's stride later on. Although the book really focuses on the events of WWII and the aftermath of the war in Emmy's life, the author introduces a present day element. The present day element is warranted as it allows the reader to gain some insight into what happened eventually because of Emmy's decisions as a young woman. I just did not like this part as much. We really don't get to know Kendra, the present day graduate student who interviews the mysterious Isabel. She is more of just a vehicle for the secrets and therefore it felt to me like she was a just sort of stuck in the story.
I loved the historical detail in this book though. I knew about the evacuations of the children from London but I did not know too much about them as in how they actually happened and what it might have been like for the children to be evacuated. I liked how the author gave readers some insight into what it must have been like. Overall, I enjoyed this story and believe that other historical fiction lovers will enjoy it as well....more
3.5 stars. Flannery believes that she will spend the rest of her life abroad. She is happy there, maintaining distant connections with her family. She3.5 stars. Flannery believes that she will spend the rest of her life abroad. She is happy there, maintaining distant connections with her family. She only goes home when her vibrant younger sister, Molly, is diagnosed with Huntington's Disease, which is the same disease that took their mother. Flannery knows that she must give up her wants to go home to the sister who never left. This story is about different coping mechanisms in the face of the unknown.
This is a powerful debut that I enjoyed. Flannery and Molly's relationship is at the center of the book but they are surrounded by friends that are dealing with Molly's diagnosis as well. Each character has suffered their own heartbreak. It's not always a romantic heartbreak; it could be heartbreak over a broken family or a career that once started out so promising that has changed into something else. These characters are pulled together by Molly's illness and each of them faces it in a different way.
I really wanted to know more about these characters outside of the group. Each one very much has their own identity within the group that seems to limit them in some way. The book is really about how they relate to each other but not really to anyone outside of the group, which made me feel in some places that I was being held at arm's length.
Overall, I really enjoyed the writing in this book. It is the best part of the book. There were some really beautiful turns of phrase in this book that I really enjoyed. This is a good debut!...more
In "Unbecoming," all Grace has wanted is somewhere to belong. She thought she had found it once with the family of the boy that she loved until a crimIn "Unbecoming," all Grace has wanted is somewhere to belong. She thought she had found it once with the family of the boy that she loved until a crime stole it all away. Grace fled from everything she knew in Texas. She now calls herself Julie and works in a store where she repairs antiques. She still hasn't gotten away from a life of crime but she is hopeful that the crime of her former life doesn't come back to haunt her. Grace quickly learns that you cannot run from the past.
Billed as a psychological thriller, this book is much quieter that that genre bills it. Grace was once in love with Riley, one of the guys who got in trouble in an art heist crime that Grace was involved in. She is in love with Alls, the other guy who took the fall. Grace could never fully pull herself away from Riley. Grace spends much of the book waiting for the proverbial books to come tumbling down.
The book is split between Grace growing up in Texas and Julie living in France in the present day. I liked seeing the story of Grace's childhood as it gave me a chance to see what happened to get Grace to the point of turning into Julie. Although we get to see her story, I don't feel like we ever get to really know Grace and how she thinks. I wanted to be able to connect with her more throughout the book. I really wanted to understand her. Overall, I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting and I will be interested to see what the author does in the future. ...more
"A Sister to Honor" is one of those books that just sucks you in from the very beginning. It is a story of cultural clashes, honor, and family. At the"A Sister to Honor" is one of those books that just sucks you in from the very beginning. It is a story of cultural clashes, honor, and family. At the center of the book is Afia, a Pashtun Pakistani woman who comes to Smith College in the United States to study to be a doctor. She falls for a guy in a way that would be totally okay for any American girl to do but for a Pakistani woman brings shame to her family. Shahid, her brother, was supposed to protect her and her dishonor is his to take care of now in order to absolve the shame from their family. This was a very powerful story that had me turning the pages as quickly as I could to see what would happen to Afia.
Afia is a fascinating character. She is torn between two worlds. On one hand, she loves her new found freedom as a college student in America. She struggles between wanting to do all of the things that her new friends do while trying to keep the customs of her family and home country. It is an incredible amount of pressure. I really felt for her throughout the book. It was a little hard for me to understand why she made the choices that she made until the author was able to show just how ingrained some of her beliefs were.
This book had a lot of twists and turns, which I really enjoyed as they kept me on my toes. I love learning about different places and cultures so I liked all of the detail that the author included about where Afia, Shahid, and their other very evil brother, Khalid, came from and what their family life in Pakistan was like.
This is definitely a book that I am going to be thinking about for a long time. The conclusion of the book definitely made me think (and of course, I don't want to give anything away so I will leave it there). This wasn't an easy read in a lot of places due to some of the brutality but I found that the author's detail was necessary in order to really understand what was going on. ...more
"The Secret of Magic" takes place in the mid-1940s. It's just after World War II and the United States is starting to put itself back together again a"The Secret of Magic" takes place in the mid-1940s. It's just after World War II and the United States is starting to put itself back together again as its young men come home. In the South, a young black man comes home as a decorated soldier and he hopes that his life and that of his family will be able to be better than it was before the war. It's not to be though and he is murdered, which will set off the main events of this book.
Regina is our main character in this book. She is a young lawyer who leaves New York to come South after her law firm receives a letter from a reclusive author who just happens to have written on of Regina's favorite childhood stories. Regina is a fascinating character. She starts out wanting to take on this case due to personal interest. Eventually she realizes that her help could help so many other people throughout the story. I did wish that we had more concrete things to go on with regard to Regina. So many of the things that Regina did seemed to hinge on a feeling that Regina had and perhaps not on what was there. It made it hard to find common ground with her in some parts of the book for me.
I was really excited about the premise of the book. It was interesting to see what life was like for the characters. So many of them had hopes that World War II would be able to change American society and were unpleasantly surprised when it did not work out. Overall, I did enjoy the story. There were a couple places in the story that dragged for me and pulled me out of the story. ...more
4.5 stars. "House Broken" is the story of Geneva, a mom who is trying to deal with her husband's crazy close-knit family, two wild teenagers, and her4.5 stars. "House Broken" is the story of Geneva, a mom who is trying to deal with her husband's crazy close-knit family, two wild teenagers, and her mother who seems to be hell-bent on destroying herself and the family. This is a story of family secrets and the strength that it takes to keep the family together when the family has gone through a dramatic event or two. I really enjoyed the story. It's a very realistic look at one family and their struggle to understand one another.
The book is told in the third person perspective from Geneva, Geneva's daughter, Ella, and Geneva's mother, Helen. I really liked how the author chose to give us the perspective of these three characters. Each of the characters has a really unique voice and a very unique perspective on what's going on in the story. I really feel like by having these three different perspectives that it pulled me further into the book.
The family drama at the center of those book was sometimes hard to read about. Geneva's family has never been close. Geneva is close to her only brother but the rest of the siblings almost never speak. At the center of this discontent are things that have been kept secret from Geneva and some of her siblings for decades. It's the unearthing of these horrible secrets that really are at the center of this book. Through these horrible secrets, we really get a good sense of what the family has been through and why some of the characters still seem to be so affected by events of so long ago. The intricacy of all of these family secrets really pulled me into the book as well.
I will start this next paragraph with a personal caveat: to me, a mark of a good book is when you are not ready to let go of the characters when the last page ends so take this next section with a grain of salt. This book has a very open-ended ending that has me pining for a sequel (please say there is a sequel!!!). I really wanted to know what happened to Helen and why even after everything that she and Geneva have been through why she still decided to do what she did. I don't want to give anything away so I won't give you any more detail but the way the book ended was very unsatisfying for me. I want more!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked how realistic the family seemed. I especially think kudos go to the author for the character of Ella. I think teenagers can be particularly difficult to write; however, this author does it with panache. I would love to read more about Geneva's family sure or maybe another selection by this author!...more
"Oracles of Delphi" is a historical mystery set in the ancient city of Delphi. This is a fascinating historical fiction tale with a lot of good histor"Oracles of Delphi" is a historical mystery set in the ancient city of Delphi. This is a fascinating historical fiction tale with a lot of good historical detail. This book takes place in fourth century Greece, a time and place I have not read a lot about (this book was a great opportunity for armchair traveling). This book gave me a good opportunity to visit someplace new through my reading while being entertained by this mystery.
What made those books so interesting to me is that we really get a front row seat to the murder, which this story surrounds but we also get to see how the various characters deal with this mystery. Believe it or not, knowing whodunit doesn't make this book any less interesting. Even though we know who committed the murder readers will still be pulled into the story by watching the other characters try to figure out who did it.
The beginning of the book starts with a bang when the murder is committed. It did lose a little bit of traction for me during the middle but comes to very satisfying conclusion. The middle of those books went much slower for me than the beginning or the ending of the book. I think some of the detail could have been slimmed down for pacing's sake. I did appreciate the mysticism that is woven throughout the story. I really enjoy magical realism as a literary element within a book. Overall, I think this book gives a really interesting insight into a time and place that was not familiar to me....more