Eighty Days was a fascinating account of two women's race around the world, that of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland.
The race was not intended to be a race at all. The idea was to outdo the fictional character Phileas Fogg's eighty day journey around the world, an idea that Bly had been pressing to the World, the paper in which she worked. She was finally given the ok, and preparations had been set. However, The Cosmopolitan caught wind of this and decided to send one of their own, Elisabeth Bisland, to race Bly. Bly set out east, and Bisland set out west.
There's no doubt that Bly's quest was the most reported on. I honestly did not know about Bisland until I came across this book. I knew all about Bly's trip around the world, but was flabbergasted that there was another woman doing the very same thing at the very same time.
The book chronicles both women's trips around the world, the ups and downs, and the unexpected road blocks. It also gives insights to the places and people both women encountered.
Both women completed their journeys, with Bly beating Bisland by a few days. Bly had become a celebrity, while Bisland gained only a little fanfare.
However, one thing they both accomplished was what they did for other women, especially in the field of journalism. More women were hired in the aftermath of the race, and the 'new American woman' was established.
One thing that bogged the book down was the endless detail. The text would sometime veer off into pages and pages about the city either women was visiting. It was nice and all, but it felt like way too much. I skipped much of this, honestly. It seemed as though there was not enough to write about either woman's trip to make a whole book, hence all the unnecessary detail.
Still, this was an informative book, and like me, you can always skip the stuff I did.(less)
The ending was quite the emotion roller coaster that I wasn't expecting. This was such a unique book, and I really didn't have any expectations when I...moreThe ending was quite the emotion roller coaster that I wasn't expecting. This was such a unique book, and I really didn't have any expectations when I started it. There were a few times in the book that I thought it might be losing momentum, but it then quickly picked back up.
(view spoiler)[ And I love stories where the villain is redeemed, which is probably why the ending was so emotional for me. I love when a villain has a complex background that made them they way they are, but then find redemption in the end. I didn't think it would happen for Suspiria, but it did. LOVE IT. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Sometimes it's hard to pick up on good writing when all the characters in a book are infuriating. That was the case here; it could have been a literar...moreSometimes it's hard to pick up on good writing when all the characters in a book are infuriating. That was the case here; it could have been a literary masterpiece and I still would not have cared for it.
I didn't care a fig about any of the characters. Charles Lindbergh was controlling and domineering, and Anne was spineless and just went along with whatever her husband said, even when she knew it was wrong. Towards the end, Anne finally found her voice and empowerment, but by then I ceased to care.
I really, really need to care about characters to keep interest in a book, even if the characters are evil, as long as I give a care what happens to them, I will continue reading. Well, I did finish The Aviator's Wife, but I skimmed the second half of the book, just to get it over it, because I frankly did not care what happened to anyone.
I really loved Alice I Have Been, but I just could not get into this one.(less)
An absolutely fantastic book about the inspirational Hildegard of Bingen. Although a fiction book, Illuminations is steeped in truth about the real li...moreAn absolutely fantastic book about the inspirational Hildegard of Bingen. Although a fiction book, Illuminations is steeped in truth about the real life of Hildegard.
Illuminations imagines how Hildegard's life really was, starting at the age of eight, when she was given to the church as a handmaiden for a young nun named Jutta. For the next thirty years, Hildegard was enclosed with Jutta in two rooms, bricked in, with the only way of communicating with the outside world being through a screen.
Expected to spend the rest of her life in submission to the church, Hildegard finally breaks free once Jutta dies. Using her own resilience and sharpness of mind, Hildegard strives for a life of freedom for herself and her fellow nuns. There were trying times to get there, and a few times she almost gave up, but she eventually prevailed.
Illuminations was fabulously written. The story flowed very fast, and I found myself reading large chunks of the story without realizing how much time had gone by. I was completely enthralled with the story of this amazing woman who defied the odds in the 12th century. I was also amazed with how her spirit didn't break once while she was cut off from civilization for thirty years. Her thirst for freedom kept her sane, despite the eventual madness of the woman she was enclosed with.
I highly recommend this book. It's not a long book, but I got so much out of it. It's sparked my desire to read more about this amazing woman.(less)
If you haven't guessed by the synopsis, this is a sort of Jane Eyre retelling. I didn't realize it was when I requested it, so I was stuck with it,...more3.5
If you haven't guessed by the synopsis, this is a sort of Jane Eyre retelling. I didn't realize it was when I requested it, so I was stuck with it, hoping that it was a decent story.
And it was. I was surprised. I usually don't read these kinds of fantasy stories, but I think the 'Eyreish' qualities of the story is what kept me focused. And somehow, the book managed to pay homage to Jane Eyre, while still being its own story. Also, the story seems to take place in an alternate past setting. Although never specified, it definitely doesn't take place in current times.
The book was slow going at first, but a little more than halfway through, it started to pickup, and then the action didn't stop. There were a lot of 'holy crap, did that just happen?' moments.
There will be a sequel, and I'm interested in how that's going to go. Perhaps that will be even more of its own story, and less Jane Eyreish.(less)
I have been wanting to read this book for probably two years, and I'm so excited that it's finally being released in the states.
I love historical fict...moreI have been wanting to read this book for probably two years, and I'm so excited that it's finally being released in the states.
I love historical fiction books set in Italy during WWII, and in my opinion there are not enough. I feel that most people don't understand about Italy's involvement during the war or the horrors the people of Italy went through during the Nazi occupation.
Tuscan Rose didn't mince anything. It showed the true story of Italy during the time of Mussolini and WWII through the eyes of fictional characters, who are probably not unlike the real people who lived through it. Mussolini was an absolute madman, and that's putting it lightly. He single-handedly ruined Italy, all because he wanted to be Hitler's lapdog. And for the horrors Italy went through during the Nazi occupation, you can read my review of The Villa Triste, which focuses just on that specific time.
The book ran a bit long, sometimes there was almost too much detail. When the partisans were discussing strategy, I admit to just skimming. Even if I read it word for word it would have went over my head.
The story follows the character Rosa over a period of fifteen years. When we first find her she's sixteen and living at a nunnery where she was left sixteen years prior by a mysterious man called The Wolf. We see through her eyes the rise of Mussolini, the war, and the occupation. Over the years she grows from an innocent young girl to an efficient woman doing whatever it takes to survive and save the ones she loves.
The ending was a rollercoaster ride. I went from crying my eyes out, to being in shock over something I never saw coming. What a twist!(less)
I really loved Kimberley Freeman's Wildflower Hill, so I could not wait to get my hands on Lighthouse Bay when I heard about it. Like Wildflower Hill,...moreI really loved Kimberley Freeman's Wildflower Hill, so I could not wait to get my hands on Lighthouse Bay when I heard about it. Like Wildflower Hill, Lighthouse Bay is told is dual time lines in two different time periods about two different women. The stories are connected, of course.
There is the story of the present, which is about a woman named Libby who returns home to Lighthouse bay after living in Paris for twenty years. Then, there is the story of the past, which takes place in 1901 and is about a woman named Isabella Winterbourne. Isabella is the lone survivor of a shipwreck and has in her possession a very expensive item.
Both Libby and Isabella are flawed women who have just experienced something that has changed their lives forever. They both battle feelings of the past, and look to make for themselves a brighter future.
Both story lines wrapped up nicely at the end. I admit to speedily reading Isabella's story because it got real tense there at the end.
Highly recommended for Kate Morton fans. Freeman's style is about the same. And if you like this one, then definitely read Wildflower Hill, for I can't say enough positive things about that book.(less)
I admit, I didn't catch everything in Deathless. A lot of things probably went over my head, but it doesn't matter. The prose was so deliciously beaut...moreI admit, I didn't catch everything in Deathless. A lot of things probably went over my head, but it doesn't matter. The prose was so deliciously beautiful, and I just got so lost in the world(s) that I didn't even notice if it all made sense to me.
All the characters were so interesting, but my favorite character was Madame Lebedeva, and I wish we saw more of her.
While the whole book was engrossing and just amazing, my favorite part was part four: There Are No Firebirds in Leningrad. There were passages in some of the chapters in this part that got me choked up, and I can't figure out why. These were probably some of the most emotionally charged chapters of the entire book.
Reading Deathless was an amazing experience, and I must read more from this author.(less)
A nice follow-up to Miss Buncle's Book. Not as charming, but still a clever and amusing book.
Barbara, Miss Buncle, is now a married woman. She and her...moreA nice follow-up to Miss Buncle's Book. Not as charming, but still a clever and amusing book.
Barbara, Miss Buncle, is now a married woman. She and her husband move to a new town to get away from all the annoying obligations to their friends. If the newlyweds are expecting peace and relaxation, they are wrong. There is just a whole new group of hijinks to get into in Wandlebury.
While there was a matter of a Will, and Barbara having to keep a secret from everyone, including her husband, I felt the story was missing something that its predecessor had. In Miss Buncle's Book, the hilarity of Barbara's book and the effects it had on her town ensued madness. With the follow-up, it was mostly Barbara getting to know her new neighbors and her insights on them.
Overall, it was a nice book about a town with some interesting occupants. I certainly enjoyed myself while reading, and enjoyed Barbara's voice.(less)
A short, but gripping story of a fabulous sword wielding female Zorro!
After almost being assaulted one day, Catalina vows never to be a damsel in dist...moreA short, but gripping story of a fabulous sword wielding female Zorro!
After almost being assaulted one day, Catalina vows never to be a damsel in distress again. Not only that, but she will help other women from being victims. She learns to sword fight in secret, and finally has the opportunity to put her plan into action... at her engagement party. Donning men's attire, and a mask, Catalina assumes the identity of El Capitan. Catalina is successful as her alter ego for a while, but soon finds it hard to keep her identity a secret from her new husband.
One of my favorite historical interests are women pirates, but I'm pretty much interested in any story that has a women wielding a sword and assuming the protective role that has mostly been associated with men. So, I knew that I would like this story. The sword fighting was, of course, my favorite parts, and it was told in great description.
I loved the setting, characters, and the blow-by-blow of the action scenes. A fantastic, quick, and creative read that will satisfy anyone looking for something different.(less)
The Oracle Glass was a fabulously told historical fantasy tale that took place around The Affair of the Poisons, a real series of events that happened...moreThe Oracle Glass was a fabulously told historical fantasy tale that took place around The Affair of the Poisons, a real series of events that happened during the reign of Louis XIV.
After the death of her beloved father, Genevieve Pasquier escapes her abusive family and becomes Madame Morville, a 150 year old fortune teller with the help of La Voisin. La Voison, who really existed, was the ruler of a secret society of witches, and is the prime source in dealing out poison to high-end clients.
Genevieve keeps up this masquerade, and eventually weaves herself an infamous reputation upon the French aristocracy. This is a dangerous game, and Genevieve uses her wits to stay afloat, but her heart might put her at risk. In 1677, Genevieve is in real fear while the authorities were rounding up fortune-tellers and the like who were suspected of selling poisons.
Everything is very tense towards the end, and I loved it. However before that was interesting, as well. I loved all the secrecy, and the fact that there was a community of witches, alchemists, fortune-tellers, magicians, etc. It's just too bad that they weren't all good people. Anyway, the intrigue was great, and it fortunately never let up. Even though it wasn't a fast-paced story, it still held my interest.
Historical fantasy is one of my favorite sub-genres, and it's so hard to find good books that fit, but this one was great! I have some of the author's other books, which all look to be historical fantasy, as well, so I'm definitely going to keep going with this author's work.(less)
I love historical fantasy (that doesn't have vampires, zombies, and werewolves) and The White Forest was a perfect example of historical fantasy done...moreI love historical fantasy (that doesn't have vampires, zombies, and werewolves) and The White Forest was a perfect example of historical fantasy done right. We get the feel of the time period, but with an added mystical atmosphere.
The specific date the story takes place in is never mentioned, but it takes place after the Crimean War. The story revolves around Jane Silverlake, who has a gift, a gift I don't want to even begin to explain because I'll just ruin it. Jane is friends with Maddy and Nathan, forming a sort of trio. When Nathan comes back from the war, he's a different man, and soon joins a cult which causes him to fall farther and farther away from his old life. One day, Nathan goes missing, and Jane must learn everything there is about her gift if she wants to help bring him back.
The descriptions of a dark and gritty Victorian London are told with such flowing prose. I got lost in the words and the pages just flew by. The characters were just great – well written and deep, even the side characters. The villain of the story, Ariston Day, the leader of the cult, was such a perfect villain. He was a villain who used his words to brainwash people, and brilliantly enough, we only see him for about two scenes, but by the time we meet him, we've already formed a determined opinion of him. His reputation proceeded him, so to speak.
A fantastically told story, and at some points it reminded me of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Very unusual, but in a good way.(less)
The Lady of Secrets is the sixth installment of the Dark Queen Saga, a series I had no idea was ongoing. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw thi...moreThe Lady of Secrets is the sixth installment of the Dark Queen Saga, a series I had no idea was ongoing. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this pop up.
The heroine of this was is Margaret Wolfe, who readers of this series will be familiar with. Now The Lady of Faire Isle, she is sought out by people who need her expertise in healing. She's sought out by one man in particular, who needs her to help lift a curse from the King of England. Once in England, she soon realizes that no one is telling the truth, and everyone is hiding something.
While I don't think this book was up to par with the rest of the series, I still liked it. I think what fell flat for me was I didn't care much for the hero, or the romance. And Meg, while a good heroine, fell short of the previous heroines. She was still a great heroine in her own right.
The first half of the book was great. Even though not a whole lot happened, I was still engrossed due to the writing. The characters were fantastic, I thought: the good, the bad, and the ones that hovered in the middle. Although, in the second half of the story, it lost something, and I'm not sure what. The climax of the story, while interesting, was disappointing in its effectiveness as the 'big event'.
Still, a good story. It was nice to see what happened to Meg.(less)
Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde is a good account of the life of an often overlooked figure.
I admit, I've been intereste...moreConstance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde is a good account of the life of an often overlooked figure.
I admit, I've been interested in the life and work of Oscar Wilde for years, but have never given a second thought to his wife Constance. Shame on me! I feel like I need to apologize to her. She was a woman ahead of her time: intelligent, progressive, for women's rights, etc. She was also a children's writer.
From reading this biography I learned that Constance was an incredibly real person. She had her flaws, but some of them can be excused for the time she lived in. I also learned just what her husband's trial and eventual imprisonment did to her.
In the book are exerts of unpublished letters that Constance wrote to friends and family. Also included are some fabulous photos that I have never seen before.
Constance Wilde was truly an inspiring woman whose life ended much too soon. She was incredibly eager to learn anything and everything, not to mention wanting to do anything and everything. She understandably wore herself out. And even when her husband went to prison, she still continued to support him, showing just how compassionate she was.
Highly recommended biography. I'm thrilled that Constance's story is finally out there.(less)
After reading this and watching the movie, I really don't get the hype. It's a decent story, which wasn't converted very well into movie form, if you...moreAfter reading this and watching the movie, I really don't get the hype. It's a decent story, which wasn't converted very well into movie form, if you ask me. Also, people are acting like it's the first story/film to deal with something like this. Not even close.(less)