What can I say about this wonderful book which I knew would be wonderful before I even read it! I'm really not going to say too much, because haven't...moreWhat can I say about this wonderful book which I knew would be wonderful before I even read it! I'm really not going to say too much, because haven't we all read it anyway? Oh, you haven't? Well, what are you waiting for? Jane Austen had such a knack with her characters and settings. Even as much as I love the films based on the books, the book really is a literary masterpiece. These people and their stories never get old because, although set in a different era, they are just like us. They hurt, love, hate, jest, and experience joy in every day things, just as we do. Such simple stories really, but how can we not identify with them when they could very well be happening to us. This is why I think Jane endures. Not just for her beautiful settings and her pretty and sometimes funny characters, but for her true insight into the workings of the human heart. Well done, Jane! (less)
There is a reason why historical fiction is my favorite genre and this book is one of them. An author that can take an historical figure, write a book...moreThere is a reason why historical fiction is my favorite genre and this book is one of them. An author that can take an historical figure, write a book about him/her based in fact, and make it historically accurate and entertaining at the same time is truly gifted. I have been interested in Queen Juana since I watched a brilliant Spanish film based on her life called "Juana La Loca" (or "Mad Love"). Not quite sure how accurate the film was, but my interest was piqued and I wanted to know more about her. However, at the time there were no historical fiction novels about her and very little non-fiction at that (at least after a search at my library). And then I entered the book blogging world in 2009 and I started hearing about this book and I wanted it. I put it on my wishlist and lucky me, my lovely Holiday Swap partner sent me the book (with my other goodies)! Well, the waiting paid off. Gortner has constructed an historically accurate novel with characters that make you want to hate (Felipe) and to cry (Juana). The subjugation of Juana by the men in her life is both infuriating and heartbreaking and I felt every misdeed against her to the bone. Gortner has landed himself on my list of favorite historical fiction authors and I'm pretty confident that he will stay there. I have his The Confessions of Catherine De Medici on my TBR pile and I can't wait to sink my teeth into it. It just inched closer to the top of the pile. (less)
Man, I really liked this book! If you like zombies, but you want more than just a bunch of mindless, animate objects staggering around on a hunt for b...moreMan, I really liked this book! If you like zombies, but you want more than just a bunch of mindless, animate objects staggering around on a hunt for brains, then this is the book for you. Turner has concocted a zombie tale for the intelligent reader. Her zombies are pretty close to human, except they eat raw flesh...animal and human. The zombies (although they do not like to be called that) have formed gangs and they live like families--hunting, fighting, and dancing together. But, like any family, when one person starts veering from the group and their behavior changes toward the group, the family unit starts to crumble. I can't really say too much because I really don't want to give away the story. It needs to be discovered and savored, as a zombie would savor the liver of a fresh kill.
Not only do we get a dynamic zombie tale here, but the author takes it a step further and asks us. What could be worse than zombies? And then she proceeds to masterfully invent that next horror for us. Dust is not only a zombie horror story, but is also a dystopian, post-apocalyptic tale of caution. When I think of the possibility of being the last humans (or what resembles human?) on earth, I certainly never envisioned this type of scenario. If you haven't read this book, I have to strongly recommend that you do so soon.(less)
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin was published in 1996. I can't believe it took me fifteen years to discover it. I have always been a lover of...moreA Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin was published in 1996. I can't believe it took me fifteen years to discover it. I have always been a lover of the fantasy genre, especially epic fantasy such as this book, so it's quite strange that I never picked it up. Not until I started seeing previews of a certain series that was coming to HBO in Spring 2011 did I learn that it was based on a book and then my interest was piqued... highly. This book is both plot and character driven and that is what makes it so great.
I have been too long away from non-fiction so this book was a slow and difficult read for me. However, it was definitely worth the read. We all know t...moreI have been too long away from non-fiction so this book was a slow and difficult read for me. However, it was definitely worth the read. We all know the story of Cleopatra, a story we've probably been told from novels and/or movies. Cleopatra was a beautiful seductress who loved and manipulated two great men, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. But she was so much more. She was a Ptolemy...from a family who was well known for murdering each other to gain power...yet she was rare in this family in that she actually loved her father. Her love for her father led to her passionate love of her country and this was most important to her above anything else. So yes, she did use some feminine wiles to protect and secure her position, but she did so shrewdly and without compromising her honor, at least in her own eyes and the eyes of her subjects. The Romans' opinion of her was entirely different and not favorable. Schiff really brings to the fore just how skillful Cleopatra was, whether we know the whole truth or not. So much of the accounts of Cleopatra's life were written by Roman (and other) philosophers who often did not have good opinions of her either.
I learned things in this book that I previously did not know. I did not know that Cleopatra had four children. I knew of Caesarion, her son with Julius Caesar, but did not know that she had three children with Mark Antony, two boys and a girl. I also did not know that the daughter, Cleopatra Selene, would go on to be a queen in Africa...pretty much following in her mother's footsteps in her rule there.
This is an excellent book for people who enjoy non-fiction and for people who would like to learn more truth behind the legend. There are rumors that a movie is being made based on this book and that Angelina Jolie may play Cleopatra. I am rather disappointed by this news, as it is clear from the book that Cleopatra was not a true 'beauty', her seductive ability aside. Someone less attractive, but capable of sultry gestures and manipulations would be more appropriate, in my opinion. Like Hollywood cares what I think, right?!
This was such a great book. My first real foray into the life of King Edward III and his mistress, Alice Perrers and it was quite enthralling. Campion...moreThis was such a great book. My first real foray into the life of King Edward III and his mistress, Alice Perrers and it was quite enthralling. Campion does an excellent job of portraying the plight of a woman in the 14th century. Women had so very little choice of who they would marry. And then, if the king wants you as his mistress, well then you better bow to his wishes. Alice had no choice in any aspect of her life...everything was decided for her. You could say that she was carried along by fate. But she remained a strong woman in her own right and had many children, who were her life. I really admired her and look forward to reading more about her. Emma Campion is the world's foremost scholar on Alice Perrers. I can see why she was able to write such a wonderful book.(less)
I've been a fan of Koontz for a long time. Saying that, it has been years since I've read one of his books (even though I own a fair amount of his tit...moreI've been a fan of Koontz for a long time. Saying that, it has been years since I've read one of his books (even though I own a fair amount of his titles in my personal library). I really enjoyed this one. It had that level of creepiness that I've come to expect from Koontz. The murderer is one of the worst I've read in a long time. The level of evil in this character is unfathomable. When that evil becomes supernatural is when it really gets scary. This rating might have been five stars, but the ending was a tad too pat and I think the first half of the book was much more exciting than the second half. In all though, this is a book I would recommend, especially to Koontz fans.(less)
I have been following Lisa's writing since I met her on MySpace, where she posted weekly short stories on her blog and I'm a big fan. I have been root...moreI have been following Lisa's writing since I met her on MySpace, where she posted weekly short stories on her blog and I'm a big fan. I have been rooting for her writing journey and I'm happy to say that a week (or so) after she published this story on Amazon, she received a three book contract for her Night trilogy and a novella. Congrats to her! So, on to the review of Across the Veil. I love Lisa's characters. They are so real and believable. And her blending of the real world with the fantasy world is effortless. The life and adventures of Princess Talia, aka Natalie Thurmont, are exciting and intriguing and I can only hope that Lisa will expand her story into a full novel someday. *fingers crossed* (less)
I have been wanting to read this book for a long time. When I first read about it, I was fascinated by the reincarnation aspect of it. I was not disap...moreI have been wanting to read this book for a long time. When I first read about it, I was fascinated by the reincarnation aspect of it. I was not disappointed. I'm not sure if this book is considered YA, but it really didn't have that normal YA feel, if you know what I mean. When Daniel and Lucy 'meet' in the present time, they are teenagers, but Daniel is various ages throughout the book as he recounts his past lives beginning in the 500s AD. These are the parts of the book that I most enjoyed...the looking back in history. Daniel has been reincarnated many times over and he remembers every life he has led. I'm not sure if that would be a blessing or a curse and I do not think that Daniel always looked on it as a blessing either. Intertwined in the story is the love story between Daniel and Lucy/Sophia. Lucy does not remember her past lives and when Daniel approaches her with the idea, it spooks her. Understandable. I mean it would be pretty incredible for someone to come up to you and tell you that you have lived before. When Lucy and Daniel finally do meet again, there is an element of danger left over from the past that is hellbent to interfere. So, as we approach the end, it is very climactic and exciting and then...it just ends! I was pissed until I found out that this is a planned trilogy. Thank goodness because I'm not sure the book would have survived my wrath.
I am a person who likes to think that we are reincarnated each time we die. The reasons for my feeling this way are because of children who have imaginary friends, which I had when I was a child. I believe that these children are remembering past lives. Also, I believe that the feelings of deja vu we experience throughout life could be shadows of our previous lives. Sorry...didn't mean to get all new agey on you here, but my beliefs are just one of the reasons I liked this book. If you normally steer clear of YA novels, don't do it on this one. Like I said, it's not your normal YA book. And if you like an historical aspect in books, you will most probably like it as well. I'm not saying that it has the most extensively researched historical bits I've ever read, but it's believable in its own right. In all, I recommend this book. (less)
Many know that I love historical fiction and I have a particular interest in prehistoric times. Ever since first reading The Clan of the Cave Bear, Bo...moreMany know that I love historical fiction and I have a particular interest in prehistoric times. Ever since first reading The Clan of the Cave Bear, Book one in Jean Auel's Earth's Children series, prehistoric stories have fascinated me. When I was offered a chance to read this book, I jumped at the chance. What Ron has done with this book is truly amazing. He gives us a glimpse of what a civilized prehistoric society might have looked like and brings interesting characters and themes into the stories. I see the main character as Blue Sky and he is a great character because he questions everything. Many of the themes in the book actually come about from Blue Sky's challenging the norm.
The first thing I found very interesting was the presence of a gay/lesbian lifestyle within this society. I thought this was an excellent way to present the case that homosexuals have been present throughout history and not always kept under wraps. The lifestyle is a normal part of life in their community and no one is ostracized because of it. I found this idea refreshing.
The book takes an interesting twist from being so accepting of homosexual lifestyles and yet cannot accept the possibility that the people who live in the hills, the hunters/gatherers, could very well be a similar people. Not the evil and hideous invaders that legend has portrayed. This is one of the issues that Blue Sky questions and seeks to bring truth to the fore.
One of the main plot points surrounds Blue Sky's sister, Rose Leaf and Morning Sun, the prince of their land. Morning Sun's father, king Tall Oak, has forbade them to marry, but no reason is given. It is made known that if they marry or procreate, their child will be killed. This is an outrage to Blue Sky. He believes that the king should not have absolute power to make and carry out decisions like this. So another theme in the book is the issue of absolute power. Should a ruler have this kind of power with nothing holding him in check? An age old question that many societies, including our great nation. have asked and fought to change. Where the people have the right to choose. A favorite quote is when Blue Sky confronts his father, Green Field, an old friend and loyal supporter of the king:
"When you were a youth," Blue Sky said, "rebelling against a misguided and fearful king was called bravery. Those who did it are still, to this day, considered heroes. And rightly so, in my opinion. When they were young, they were fearless. But sadly, as they grew older, they let fear rule their lives and the kingdom. I'll have nothing further to do with you. I'll say goodbye to my mother now and be gone. You, though, can forget you ever had me for a son."
What a tell off! Blue Sky has decided to take a stand and champion the cause of Morning Sun and Rose Leaf. He is determined that the people of the kingdom will be equally outraged and a demand for change will come about. You will have to read the book if you want to know what happens!
I really liked Promised Valley Rebellion because of what I mentioned above, but also because of how Ron explored the differences between the hunting/gathering society and the societies of the farming towns and animal herders, showing that these societies coexisted for a time and that there was animosity between them. It is an interesting exploration of prehistoric life wrapped up with elements of conflict, love and lust. (less)
Are you a very spiritual person? Do you also like a lot of new age wisdom mixed in with your spirituality? If you answered yes to one or either of the...moreAre you a very spiritual person? Do you also like a lot of new age wisdom mixed in with your spirituality? If you answered yes to one or either of these questions, then this book might be for you. Personally, I'm not a hugely spiritual person. I believe in God and I pray, but I'm not really....what can I say?...like this book. I can see where she was going with it and I did like several of her insights on becoming who we want to be. For instance, she emphasizes the importance of forgiveness, in ourselves and others, in order to become more fully realized as our true selves. I believe this...I have to. Mistakes I have made in recent years have really taken their toll on me mentally and I am trying to learn to forgive myself so I can move on and realize a more fulfilling life. Also, chapters 26 and 27 are excellent in the way she gives specific guidelines for accomplishing these goals. I wish the entire book would have been more like that. In all, if you are spiritual or are looking to add some spiritual qualities to your life, check this book out. (less)
John Stocking, aka Johnny One-Eye is an enigmatic character. Is he a loyalist or a rebel? Is he for the British or for America? Is he George Washingto...moreJohn Stocking, aka Johnny One-Eye is an enigmatic character. Is he a loyalist or a rebel? Is he for the British or for America? Is he George Washington's son or not? None of these questions really get answered, but that's not really a problem in this novel. Charyn succeeds in bringing across the precarious nature of America during the Revolutionary War. The ins and outs of British occupied Manhattan are quite confusing. I found myself scratching my head several times wondering who was on whose side. We are introduced to famous characters such as George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and Alexander Hamilton and we are exposed to their characters and personalities from the point of view of Johnny One-Eye. Does his one eye give him a skewed view of the world? Sometimes it would seem so. Was George Washington hopelessly in love with a woman who would become a madam? Possibly true. Did Benedict Arnold turn traitor because his beautiful wife was intelligent and a British spy? That would seem true as well. All of these intrigues are portrayed nicely in the book and although they may not be altogether factual, one can't help but believe in their plausibility. I will warn you, this may not be a book to read if you have no interest in history. As a history buff myself, I found the book to be a refreshing look at the Revolutionary War. (less)
Crimson Petal is a magnificent portrayal of life in Victorian England. The book is so visual that the reader almost feels present in the action. And t...moreCrimson Petal is a magnificent portrayal of life in Victorian England. The book is so visual that the reader almost feels present in the action. And the characters! Sugar is not your typical prostitute with a heart of gold. Yes, she aspires to be good and she is good to a certain extent. Only the history of her upbringing interferes with her ever achieving true goodness. In the end, she does seem to receive some redemption, but we never really know for sure. William is a man born to privilege, but with no desire to work to keep that privilege...until he meets Sugar. An excellent display of a man who starts achieving due to the yearnings of his nether regions. This, in and of itself, gives us a true idea of the kind of person William is. And he really is not a likable person. As with men of this nature, when your usefulness is gone, he no longer needs you. This holds true with his wife, Agnes, and with his concubine, Sugar. In all, Crimson Petal gives us an excellent overview of the class structures in Victorian times and the subjugation of women that was so prevalent. A truly excellent book that I highly recommend, with one warning. There are some explicit sex scenes so if you are easily offended, you may wish to skip this one. (less)