Very interesting subject matter, I would have loved to feel some sort of connection with the women but the pacing and storytelling felt so "off" it waVery interesting subject matter, I would have loved to feel some sort of connection with the women but the pacing and storytelling felt so "off" it was difficult to do....more
An interesting account of a woman whom I had never even heard of before! The in depth historical account of the Rothschild family was incredibly interAn interesting account of a woman whom I had never even heard of before! The in depth historical account of the Rothschild family was incredibly interesting, every single person in the clan seems so weirdly eccentric and colorful, I would love to hear more about them, especially her science and bug obsessed sister, Miriam. The author does a really great job of capturing the history of the time and the jazz movement in general, with bits on Charlie Parker and a primary focus on Thelonius Monk throughout the second half.
Although the title would suggest an analysis of Nica's life, the author doesn't seem to fully grasp her great-aunt's life, or at least capture it in any meaningful way. Perhaps this is due to the illusive nature of her character? The story of the infamous jazz-obsessed Baroness really only skims the surface, I would have loved more insight into her being. From what I gather, she lived a hedonistic life full of jazz, liquor, fast cars, and kept artists. I do think she meant well, however, and seemed to really care about the artists and friends she invested so much time into....more
Title: Dead Reckoning Release Date: June 5, 2012 Publisher: Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers Format: Hardcover, 324 pages (9781599906843) Source: PurchaTitle: Dead Reckoning Release Date: June 5, 2012 Publisher: Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers Format: Hardcover, 324 pages (9781599906843) Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble
The year is 1867, and Jett Gallatin is traveling the western frontier in search of her twin brother. Disguised as a boy and feared as a lawbreaker, her journey has taken her to Alsop, Texas, where a bar fight turns into a fight for survival after the town is overrun with the reanimated corpses of the recently deceased. Barely escaping with her life, Jett teams up with a spirited young inventor and a Native American raised scout in order to uncover who is controlling this undead army, before it wipes out every town in its path. Don't mess with Texas, especially when it's overrun with zombies!
"Jett Gallatin expected trouble in Alsop, Texas- but not zombies."
Gunslingers? Frontier setting? Steampunk? Zombies? Dead Reckoning has all the makings of a wickedly fun read with the added bonus of being co-written by the lovely fantasy writer and guilty pleasure of many of my friends, Mercedes Lackey. At first glance, this might seem like an incredibly silly work of fiction meant for pure entertainment...and yeah, you would be right, but sometimes it's fun to take a break from truly emotional works and just loose yourself in a different time, in a different place, pitted against a hoard of zombies with nothing but your Stetson, a bottle of whiskey, and your trusty horse by your side. This is definitely not the kind of book I would have to mull over buying in a bookstore, this was one of those grab-you-by-the-spurs novels that forced me at gunpoint to pick up! I only wish it had lived up to the synopsis, but the story was ultimately wrangled, branded, and tamed before it even got the chance to prove itself as a wild stallion.
"The West was a place where you could come to shed your past, and plenty of folks took the opportunity to shed a lot more than that."
For me, one of the highlights of Dead Reckoning was that it possessed some kick ass Wild West gals! Jett Gallatin was a breath of fresh air after the unpleasant time I spent with my last literary heroine, Emma from Of Poseidon. She's smart, funny, devoted to her cause (and to her horse), and is not afraid to get her hands dirty in battle. These attributes are balanced by the fact that she is not just a phenomenal gunslinger but also possesses the fragility of a young woman coping with finding her place in a male dominated society. We also have the lovely Honoria Gibbons, a quirky young inventor who possesses a love of the scientific method and a bizarre steampunk vehicle called an Auto-Tachypode (and yes, I did have to look up to make sure this was indeed a made-up invention). I am actually incredibly sad that Gibbons didn't receive more of a prominent role in this story, even though she really lead the investigation into the creation and destruction of the undead. Our third hero played much less of a role in the story, and seemed to be added as an afterthought. Poor White Fox is a white boy raised by Meshkwahkihaki Indians and appears to have been included to create some sort of sexual tension among our female leads, but in the end he just sort of sits in the background smoking pipe tobacco and not really aiding in our heroes quest
"...she'd never worried about not being able to tell what he was thinking. The fact she could tell now scared her."
The downside to an otherwise enjoyable read was the fact that the story moved at a rather sluggish pace. Maybe I have the tendency to run my Westerns at a grueling pace a la the old Oregon Trail games but I was expecting much more action in a story set during both the Wild West and a zombie infestation. The book starts off with a bang, Jett arrives at Alsop and heads to the bar for the evening, only to find herself avoiding first a bar brawl, then a zombie brawl as the town gets overrun. From there, Dead Reckoning just sort of looses steam. Our heroes meet and spend the remainder of the story holed up in Alsop while making short excursions to a local religious commune, all the while investigating how one can scientifically make a zombie. Not exactly the glass shattering, gun-firing action one would expect from a book such as this. You will also be sad to hear that there are no more than 3 zombie "battles" throughout the entire novel. This all culminates in the unveiling of "the villain" and their "evil plan," which, might I add, was not exactly a shocker nor did it hold much meaning in the big scheme of things.
"Without bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all."
After a long day's journey, it's time to tether the horse and light the campfire for an evening of baked beans and good ol' campfire storytelling. Dead Reckoning was definitely entertaining, but not really as flushed out as I was hoping. There's a fair amount of historical detailing peppered throughout the book, and strong-willed female leads, but the predictable story, limited setting, and lackluster battles really made it a much slower read than it should have been. With little action and bare bones versions of our heroes stories, all I ended up wanting to do was caulk my wagon and float across the river to a more eventful story. Thankfully, I have enough bison meat and wagon wheels to last the remainder of the trail, and with any luck will find my journey takes me to Dead Reckoning 2!
"'Then I won't say 'good-bye'...I'll say vaya con Dios instead.'"...more
Title: Changeling (Order of Darkness #1) Author: Philippa Gregory Release Date: May 24, 2012 Publisher: Simon Pulse Format: Hardcover, 256 pages Source: PuTitle: Changeling (Order of Darkness #1) Author: Philippa Gregory Release Date: May 24, 2012 Publisher: Simon Pulse Format: Hardcover, 256 pages Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble
"The hammering on the door shot him into wakefulness like a handgun going off in his face."
It 1453 Italy, and the vast amount of unsolved mysteries and curious events has led people to believe that it is the end of times. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero has just been expelled from his monastery and recruited by a secretive order commanded by Pope Nicholas V in order to travel to the far reaches of the world, documenting and defeating the fears of Christendom. His first mission lands him in an abbey whose most recent Lady Abbess, Isolde, is facing accusations of witchcraft. Little does Luca know that both the abbey and Isolde have secrets of their own, and an inquisition into the strange sleepwalking and stigmata plagued inhabitants may uncover more mysteries than answers.
Changeling is Philippa Gregory's first young adult novel, coming from a firm background in writing historical fiction for the bodice-ripper set. Although the historical aspects of Changeling conjured up sincere images of medieval life, including the lore and mania surrounding superstitious beliefs and accusations, the first book in the Order of Darkness series left much to be desired. The pacing of the story was very strange, as the aforementioned plot surrounding the abbey is resolved in a little over halfway through the book, leaving the remainder of the book open for another inquiry in a whole other town. Then the story just sort of abruptly ends, with no real leads into the next book. The novel is also told from alternating perspectives, between that of the inquisitor Luca Vero and the recent Lady Abbess Isolde. I am usually not a fan of this type of storytelling, but I think it really worked for this particular novel, as it is meant to showcase how people from different backgrounds assess and react to their situations, which is basically the entire point of the story.
"'You didn't pursue him for all the sins since Adam! Though I am responsible for everything done by Eve?"
One of the aspects that I really appreciated was the attention to gender discrimination which was prominent during this time period. Women were expected to behave a certain way, dress a certain way, and basically listen to whatever her male guardian told her to do. If she so much as challenged the status quo, she would often be tried for heresy or witchcraft, and sentenced to death, often without a fair trial. Such is the case with our female protagonist, Isolde. Her initial role is that of partial heir to the lands of the House of Lucretili, but after her father's death, it is allegedly revealed that it was written in their father's will that she choose between marrying a wealthy man or sent to the nunnery. Guess which one she chooses. To add insult to injury, a string of bizarre incidents occur shortly after her arrival at the abbot, and she is accused of these crimes. Blame is also placed on her friend and helper, Ishraq, a Moorish girl whom is believed to be a witch due to her foreign blood, dark skin, and strange practices, and is also questioned in regards to her relationship with Isolde due to their closeness. Ishraq proves to be quite a force to be reckoned with, and shows time and again how a woman can endure discrimination and still be a badass. I found myself relating more to Ishraq than the rather timid Isolde, although this may be an unfair comparison due to their wildly different upbringings.
"'It is my new ambition. It's my new word: reticent.'"
As far as characters go, I found myself drawn to the side characters more so than the leads. The bickering and subsequent relationship of Frieze and Ishraq was vastly more interesting than that between Luca and Isolde, who have about as much chemistry as a bear and a kettle. Luca Vero, our lead male, is about as dull as they come. Sure, he might be kind and intelligent, but he lacks any sort of personality that would deem him interesting. He also has no problem accusing the women of heresy and witchcraft during his inquiry, but as soon as he sees how beautiful Isolde is when her hood slips off, it's game over for him and he has to rethink his entire life. What magic! Now Frieze, on the other hand, is a horse of a different color. He's quirky, funny, has character enough for himself and Luca, and is a honey-tongued devil of a man. Even if the romance between him and Ishraq never takes off, their relationship is still quite charming.
"'If I let them kill it without a word of protest, what would stop them from coming for me?'"
Changeling (Order of Darkness #1) is not without its issues, but I am such a fan of Frieze and Ishraq that I feel compelled to continue reading the series. Readers may find the story to be a bit obscure, but the mystery aspects are present, and the whole novels reads like a rather quick episode of some serialized historical mystery. The characters may resonate with certain people, but I found both Luca and Isolde to be a bit bland for my palette. Those who like their characters with a bit of spice will find Frieze and Ishraq to be wholly unique additions to the YA market, especially the strong-willed female, Ishraq. Although the pacing of the story was a bit strange, it was still an enjoyable start to what I hope will pan out to be quite an elaborate series as well as a grand statement on how hysteria can distort people's perceptions of reality.
"'I will stay with you...While our roads lie together.'"
Really cute quick read, although the story seemed a bit rushed. I loved the book design and the illustrations, and although the story was nice and ligReally cute quick read, although the story seemed a bit rushed. I loved the book design and the illustrations, and although the story was nice and light, it could've used a bit more meat....more
Great overview of the woman behind Chanel No. 5 (Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel) and the intimate history of how this little bottle became an overnight sensaGreat overview of the woman behind Chanel No. 5 (Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel) and the intimate history of how this little bottle became an overnight sensation. ...more