To say that this book was a difficult read would be putting it mildly. When I was offered a spot on the tour, after I read the synopsis, it reminded m...moreTo say that this book was a difficult read would be putting it mildly. When I was offered a spot on the tour, after I read the synopsis, it reminded me of another multiple personality book I read years ago called "Sybil" by Flora Rheta Schreiber. The only thing similar about the two books is that both women were abused at a young age and both developed multiple personalities to cope and protect themselves from the abuse. Not to discount the trauma that Sybil suffered, I have to say that the abuse Jenny Hill was subjected to was far, far worse.
I know it really shouldn't shock me that things like this occur, and have occurred, in our society for years, but I'm still in a state of disbelief that anyone, including a child's own father, could sexually abuse a child beginning at infancy. What comes into the equation in Jenny's story is something called Satanic Ritual Abuse. Of course, we've all heard stories and accounts of the practice in the news and such, but it always seems like a horror movie. Not real. Unfortunately, it is real, or was. The level of abuse--emotional, sexual, physical--that Jenny was subjected to was horrific. Not only the horrendous abuse, but also the witnessing of the murders of animals and another child. It's a miracle that Jenny survived.
As I said, an extremely difficult read. I found myself in tears many times as I was reading. But this is an important read because we need to be aware that things like this go on in our world. It reminds us to be aware and watchful of children who may be showing signs that something is wrong. Don't just overlook it. It's also a cautionary tale for parents. Know what your children are doing and where they are going. Of course, back in the 60s, parents weren't as careful or aware of what could happen to young children, but it's still hard to believe that Jenny's mother did not think it was strange that her six year old daughter was gone all the time or that she returned home looking ravaged. That her mother was indifferent and mean to her daughter is just another layer of abuse that Jenny suffered, not to mention that she probably knew that her husband was sexually abusing Jenny, but instead of reacting and taking action, she only expressed jealousy.
Ultimately, "Twenty Two Faces" is a story of survival. Jenny did survive and went on to live a somewhat "normal" life, if it's possible after what she went through. She lived to tell her story and by doing so, she may just succeed in helping others and perhaps preventing abuse like this happening to others. (less)
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)
I'm going to refer back to Gemini's terrific guest post (http://thetruebookaddict.blogspot.com...) in this review. I too was struck by the film, Brave...moreI'm going to refer back to Gemini's terrific guest post (http://thetruebookaddict.blogspot.com...) in this review. I too was struck by the film, Braveheart. It is my favorite film and probably always will be. And, as Gemini also felt, it was this film that led to my obsession and further investigation into the personages portrayed in the movie. I immediately did a lot of non-fiction reading on William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. In addition, I was very curious about Edward I (Longshanks), Edward II, and Isabella and so, did more reading on them as well. Since then, I have been intrigued to read historical fiction that features these people who held such interest for me. The King Must Die is one of those books.
I've said this before and I'll say it again. Good historical fiction, whether completely accurate or not, will (should) invoke such passion in the reader that he/she can't help but go off on a quest for more information on the subject matter and/or the historical figures depicted there. Whether this quest comes in the form of reading more historical fiction portrayals of the subject, as to get different points of view, or taking it a step (or two) further and devouring every non-fiction source a person can get their hands on, for it to occur at all is a bow to the genre. Gemini has made her characters so real and interesting, I certainly can't help but want to read more about them. Especially in the case of Edward III. I found him so interesting as he grew from a 14 year old boy into a king, husband, and father. I also like that she explored a different avenue than the portrayal of Isabelle as an evil witch who wanted her husband dead. Another great aspect of historical fiction novels is to read the differing points of view of the authors who write them.
I recommend The King Must Die to all lovers of historical fiction. It is written by an author who is clearly passionate about her subject matter and it shines through in every word on the page. I look forward to reading her future (and past) works.
Note: Be sure to read the excellent author's note at the end of the book which sheds some light on the historical facts behind the story.
Give me a book with a cat and Christmas in it and it's a surefire bet that I'm going to like it. The Nine Lives of Christmas is a lovely Christmas tal...moreGive me a book with a cat and Christmas in it and it's a surefire bet that I'm going to like it. The Nine Lives of Christmas is a lovely Christmas tale told partially from a cat's point of view. The cat is named Ambrose and he is a yellow tabby who is on his last life. Ambrose is so engaging. Sheila really captured what most of us cat lovers know about cats...little lovers with attitude. I enjoyed the parts featuring Ambrose best, with his inner monologue all focused on how he is going to achieve a long and comfortable ninth life. Of course, some matchmaking is in order. It wouldn't be a Christmas story unless there was a little romance thrown in.
I was afraid at first that this book might end up very sad. It seems that a lot of the stories featuring animals often do. Luckily, this book filled the bill of a fun and heartwarming Christmas tail (tale...sorry, had to use Sheila's witticism) that just adds to the fun and magic of the season. Thank goodness Nicholas Sparks doesn't write Christmas books.
If you love Christmas themed books, you will really enjoy this book. I know it has become part of my permanent Christmas book collection and, I'm sure, will get a reread in Christmases to come!(less)
I love books on writing. I have read my share of them too. I've read ones by Terry Brooks and Stephen King and others. So you'd think by now that I wo...moreI love books on writing. I have read my share of them too. I've read ones by Terry Brooks and Stephen King and others. So you'd think by now that I would have at least one novel under my belt. But I don't. Julie clarifies this issue in a nutshell...you have to write your way. Yes, you should pay attention to the advice and there are certain things the writer should not fudge on, like style and grammar. She recommends The Elements of Style by Strunk and White and there I couldn't agree with her more. I happen to have that book in my writing arsenal. A writer should also keep a good book on grammar handy. What she said that I really liked and agree with 100% is "write something that matters--if only to you." Great advice. Who wants to write something they don't care about? If the writer doesn't care, the reader certainly isn't going to. It doesn't have to be a big statement book, but the story should mean something, should touch the writer and, therefore, the reader. Authenticity and truth come in too. Don't skimp on the details. Do the research. The most important thing though...get it written. Set deadlines for yourself and this is one I like. Set a goal of five pages per day, five days a week. This works for Julie because she's a rule breaker so if she doesn't write on Monday, she can write Saturday to make it up. Or she can add pages on to other days. I think I like this approach better than so many words per day or hours even. Frankly, the word count thing makes me very nervous (I'm talking to you NaNoWriMo)!
Julie's core rules:
Start it--put one word after another. Put your heart in it. Part with it--get it written.
Simple and straight forward. I like it. In subsequent chapters, she discusses voice, plot, characters, and all the nuts and bolts when it comes to writing a novel, but she does it in a fresh way. She doesn't bog it all down with pages and pages of explanations. That's one beef I have with writing books. They are way too long. Hence why there are so many on my shelves that remain unread. Julie's 121 page dynamo is the perfect book on writing. This is a book that will stay in my eReader and I will be using it as I continue with the novel I started during NaNoWriMo and did not finish. I will finish it. Five pages a day, five days a week and I will write it my way. Thank you, Julie. (less)
When I was given the opportunity to participate in Lisa Kessler's virtual book tour, I jumped at the chance. You see, I have known Lisa for several ye...moreWhen I was given the opportunity to participate in Lisa Kessler's virtual book tour, I jumped at the chance. You see, I have known Lisa for several years now (oddly enough, we met on MySpace) and I have followed her writing career, reading her stories and her updates regarding the novels she was working on and offering encouragement along the way. Night Walker was one of the novels she was working on during that time and I am pleased as punch for her and also so proud of her accomplishment.
Now I'm not a big reader of paranormal romance. In fact, I'm not much for romance novels at all. However, I had been reading Lisa's stories over the years and I really liked her style of writing. I am pleased to say that Night Walker just works on so many levels. First of all, anyone who knows me, knows I love the idea of reincarnation and this is an almost immediate premise in the book. Yes! And adding a love story along with reincarnation just makes it even better. But also, there are a moral implications at the base of the story that give it even more depth. I was pleased that the characters were likable and I developed an easy connection with them, with the exception of one very unlikable character, Jose, who is about as vile as they come. Don't worry...you're not supposed to like him. This really isn't a typical "vampire" novel, although many may try to pigeonhole it that way. As I said, it's more of a love story with a conscience. The moral issues were subtle, but recognizable. The displacement of Native Americans by the Spanish and the betrayal of the confessional by a monk (which leads to a despicable act) are the issues interlaced in the plot and I thought their presence added greatly to the depth of the novel.
I feel I must touch on the love scenes which are one of the reasons I tend to steer clear of the PR genre. I'm not fond of the explicit or overly erotic scenes. I have to send kudos Lisa's way. She really made the scenes sensual and classy (with the exception of Jose's scenes, but his aren't supposed to be). Would that other writers in this genre would take Lisa's lead and I just might become a convert!
Finally, the epilogue gives us an intriguing glimpse of what's to come as the Night series continues and I have to say...I can't wait! Well done, Lisa, on this wonderful first novel. (less)
This is going to be a short review because, frankly, I don't quite know what to say. Someone may call me out for saying this, but I can't help but won...moreThis is going to be a short review because, frankly, I don't quite know what to say. Someone may call me out for saying this, but I can't help but wonder why this book is so touted. I admit that Holden Caulfield is a unique and entertaining character. I couldn't help but smile and chuckle every time he said "crumby" or "phoney" or "goddam" for the hundredth time. But as I read, I started to notice that Holden seems very dissatisfied with everything and everyone around him. Like his sister says, "You don't like anything that happens." I started to form an impression that Holden is bipolar. He certainly has some kind of mental disturbance going on with himself which I think stems from the loss of his younger brother to cancer. Back then, there really wasn't so much openness toward mental illness. And people didn't yet understand the effects of a death in the family on a young child and that said child might need counseling to help him/her deal with the loss. Holden needed that kind of help and when he didn't get it, he blasted the world, so to speak. But I think his 'dislike' of everything is really him reflecting his despair on the world. There is also a part toward the end where sexual abuse is alluded to and that could also be at play in Holden's character and his behavior.
In all, I would have to say that the book is a great character study, but I was expecting it to be much better.(less)
One of my favorite films is The Color Purple. I actually didn't realize it until recently, as I was reading the book and it just happened to come on c...moreOne of my favorite films is The Color Purple. I actually didn't realize it until recently, as I was reading the book and it just happened to come on cable. I proceeded to watch it twice during the time of reading the book and I remembered how much I loved it. Well, the film in no way prepared me for how wonderful the book is. The film and the book are actually pretty close until it gets closer to the end. The ending in the book blows the movie away. The Color Purple is not just a story of a black woman who struggles with an abusive husband and missing a sister who she felt was the only person who ever loved her. It's a story of a community of black people who try to exist in a world of the white man's disdain and oppression. What makes the book so much better than the movie is that Walker allows the characters to grow in the end. There is a feeling of redemption for all of the characters, not just Celie. I liked it much better. Once again, the book prevails over the movie. Go figure. ;O)(less)
One would think that someone like me would grow tired of the Tudors, as I have read books and watched shows and films about them voraciously for years...moreOne would think that someone like me would grow tired of the Tudors, as I have read books and watched shows and films about them voraciously for years. And honestly, I think I was starting to feel a bit less enamored recently. However, Barnhill's book has changed all that. Anne Boleyn is probably one of my most favorite Tudors, second only to her own daughter, Elizabeth I. I have loved her ever since watching the film, Anne of the Thousand Days, when I was but a girl of nine. Barnhill has taken Anne and written about her with such depth and understanding, I don't think I have ever read, or watched, her portrayed thus. Although I know there is much more written about her in the world that I have not read, I am confident that Barnhill has captured the very essence of Anne Boleyn. Of course, we all know pretty much everything about Anne's story (unless you've been living under a rock), but Barnhill adds that extra element that makes for great character development and excellent story craft. The scene that comes to mind is when Anne's son is born dead. Her utter sorrow over his loss actually brought tears to my eyes. A book that brings me to tears is a book worthy of my highest praise, as many of my readers know. The character of Anne is not the only one in the book that is well-written. One might think Lady Margaret Shelton a boring character by normal standards, but there is much to be said about such a loyal, yet complex woman. Loyal to her queen, yet not afraid to seek happiness for herself. Unfortunately, the times of Henry VIII were perilous for all and it couldn't be more evident than in the pages of this book. Everyone seemingly walked on a tightrope and no one's position was ever secure during his reign, not even his own children. Again, Barnhill portrays a character perfectly. We immediately know Henry's mind in this book as soon as he enters the story.
I am very impressed with this debut novel. Historical fiction is not easy to write and to have crafted such a well researched, yet entertaining book, is quite an accomplishment for an author's first novel. I look forward to more great writing from Ms. Barnhill.(less)
This is one intriguing book. From page one, it grabs hold and doesn't let go until the very end, and even then it's not easily forgotten. It's atmosph...moreThis is one intriguing book. From page one, it grabs hold and doesn't let go until the very end, and even then it's not easily forgotten. It's atmospheric and the characters add to that atmosphere. I was very impressed with the characters; very fleshed out and interesting. Centered around Jane, the enigmatic figure we are introduced to in the first few pages as a figure on a road, narrowly avoided by a swerving truck, these characters bend as if directed by an unseen will. Jane seems to be the force behind that will. The minute she stepped foot in Graynier, things started to change. What I like best, I think, is Kernochan's no-holds-barred, in your face prose. Don't be expecting a light read here. This book is gritty and honest. And the subject of reincarnation, endlessly fascinating to me, is very much present. Jane Was Here is a book that should be on some best of lists. It certainly is one of the best books I've read in 2011. (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)
Almost immediately after beginning this book, I found myself on Google, searching out the names of the kings in the story, Henry III of England and Lo...moreAlmost immediately after beginning this book, I found myself on Google, searching out the names of the kings in the story, Henry III of England and Louis IX of France. It is always a thrill to be sparked by historical fiction into further research on the historical figures which the story surrounds. The sister queens, much to my delight, were married to two highly interesting such figures. Eleanor, who married Henry III, the grandson of my beloved Eleanor of Aquitaine, and becomes the mother of Edward Longshanks, the king who was in power during the time of William Wallace (another treasured figure of mine). And Marguerite, who married Louis IX, became the grandmother of Philippe IV, whose daughter, Isabella, became the wife of Longshanks' son, Edward II, and was notoriously suspected of plotting the murder of her husband. You might think this a strange manner in which to begin a book review, but I do this to stress the importance of historical fiction, not only as entertainment, but as a tool for learning. Good historical fiction will incite the reader to investigate the historical figures coming alive in its pages. The Sister Queens is one such book.