Wow, a 5-star book and added to my all time favorite. The book received mixed reviews in Amazon, where lots of 5-stars were mixed with one and two sta...moreWow, a 5-star book and added to my all time favorite. The book received mixed reviews in Amazon, where lots of 5-stars were mixed with one and two stars. After finishing the book, I can finally see why. "A Discovery of Witches" is about a woman, who's well-educated and a history professor in Oxford. She came from a line of witches, but reluctant and never learned to use magic since her parents were killed when she was little. The author has in depth knowledge not only about history, but also science, architecture, Europe, culinary delights and wine..The book immediately reminded me of "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, since both story took me to places in Europe that I've never been and historical periods that were so enlightening.
The bad reviews were from readers that complained about "lack of sex", "too much eating", "too much courting" or "too many food details...." or just plain "boring", but for a science, travel, and history buff like me, it's a delight. It's like a private tour to Europe and back in time, while learning about food and wine along the way. The complexity of the story and in depth descriptions of history and science can turn off younger readers...or readers looking for an easy read like Twilight. The story will be a delight for people who actually enjoy accurate scientific, historical, culinary and geographical information. The author has a wealth of knowledge and a unique style of writing and she's willing to share. Having one or two fully developed characters is fairly successful for a new author like her, but making me fall in love with almost ALL of the characters(>10), that had almost never happened in my reading life. I tremendously enjoyed "A Discovery of Witches"...I hope you do, too. Can't wait for the second book in the series...(less)
I had such a fun time reading this book that I wished it went on forever…
I have no idea Eloisa James was a famous writer before I read the book. Evide...moreI had such a fun time reading this book that I wished it went on forever…
I have no idea Eloisa James was a famous writer before I read the book. Evidently she is a wildly famous historical romance author and an English professor in a University. However, I’m glad that I didn’t know her before I read the book, since I felt like reading the journal entries of a dear friend or the advice giving by another Mother friend with children of the same age. There is no way I could have the same experience if I had known how popular she was.
After recovering from breast cancer, Eloisa took a year off from teaching and her American life, sold her house and car, and moved to Paris for a year. She moved there with her Italian husband, who is also a professor, her teen son and her 10-year old daughter. This book is a collection from her blog and Facebook posts that she had written during that journey. What made this book so fun to read was Eloisa’s wit and humor, and her ability to make every minor detail of her Parisian life interesting.
Here’s one of her passage about skinny Paris women:
“I have discovered at least one secret of thin French women. We were in a restaurant last night, with a chic family seated at the next table. The bread arrived, and a skinny adolescent girl reached for it. Without missing a beat, maman picked up the basket and stowed it on the bookshelf next to the table. I ate more of my bread in sympathy.”
A regular street scene in Paris:
“Archetypal French scene: two boys playing in the street with baguettes were pretending not that they were swords, as I first assumed, but giant penises.”
She also wrote about museums, shops, churches, schools, statues, bridges, parks, French women and men, fashion, people, sights, wonderful Parisian food as well as not-to-miss paintings and pastries. Since I’ve been to Paris before and her detailed and accurate descriptions made me miss the city terribly. Her comparisons of French and American parenting were interesting to read, and quite similar to what Pamela Druckerman wrote about in Bringing up Bebe, another book about France. Her facts about Paris were reliable and accurate; her observations of subtle differences were fun to ponder over. Reading it was like experiencing everything Parisian first hand. Overall, I think it’s a book worth reading, for both people who had been to Paris or not, although it’s kind of short due to the format. (less)
Every so often, a book comes along. It’s everything you imagine a great fiction to be. It evokes the tremendous joy of just being able to read, to imm...moreEvery so often, a book comes along. It’s everything you imagine a great fiction to be. It evokes the tremendous joy of just being able to read, to immerse yourself in a book so fully, to jump into a journey where every sense in your body is heightened, and your mind stimulated. Then the last page is turned, you sigh with sadness since you know you will not be able to find another book like this for a long, long time.
Shadow of Night is such a book.
I wrote these in my review of the first book of the trilogy:
“The author has in depth knowledge not only about history, but also science, architecture, Europe, culinary delights and wine… The book immediately reminded me of "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova, since both story took me to places in Europe that I've never been and historical periods that were so enlightening…..The story will be a delight for people who actually enjoy accurate scientific, historical, culinary and geographical information. The author has a wealth of knowledge and a unique style of writing and she's willing to share.”
The review still rings true for the second installment, and more so. For readers who disliked the first installment of the series due to the slowness of the beginning, you’ll be delighted to hear that this book started right at the part where the first book dropped off, and is a thrill ride all the way to the end. You can also find satisfactory answers to most, if not all the burning questions that you had after reading A Discovery of Witches. I know it’s a gruesome wait for the second book in the series, but the wait is well worth it…this book surpassed everything I had imagined it to be.
The story begins right where the first book left off, Matthew and Diana landed in Elizabethan England, 1590, hoping to find the enchanted Ashmole 782, as well as someone to help the spellbound Diana to learn her abilities. You’ll be surprised to encounter real historical characters that came alive under Harkness’ pen. Harkness’ take on Christopher Marlowe, Elizabeth I, Walter Raleigh and others were unique and creative, yet totally believable. I wrote in my review of ADoW how I fell in love with all the characters in the first book, yet I’m equally invested in all the new characters in Shadow of Night, both historical and fictional. It’s heartbroken to realize that these characters live in another space and time, and the only way I could reconnect with them is through the re-reading of this book.
If you loved A Discovery of Witches because of Harkness’ extensive and detailed descriptions of everything, you’re in for another treat. Harkness bought Elizabethan England to life using her professional knowledge and her unique writing voice: fashion, writing, architecture, food, music, writing, cooking, art, jewelries, home decors, smell of spices, and even the sound of church bells…. Be prepared to be immersed into 1600 Europe, from England to France and Prague, whether if you’re prepared or not. I recommend you to drop or finish every other book in your list to get ready for the most sensual ride in your life.
I also love how Harkness incorporated a short chapter of the present after each part of the book. It shows how Diana and Matthew’s interference with the past affects the future. Everything that we do or not do has an impact in future, especially in our loved one and family’s life. Hopefully, history is valued and lessons learned. These chapters showed us how important it is to seize the moment and live your life, because there’s no going back. A few tender moments bought tears to my eyes. Compared to ADoW, the second book is much more emotional.
Romance. Matthew and Diana in the 1600s were not without their problems. Matthew in Elizabethan era was a much more complex and dark character. The society was also less friendly for females, especially a witch with a weird accent. However, fans looking forward to more romance between them will not be disappointed. There are lots and lots of tender moments and love. It made up for what was lacking in A Discovery of Witches.
If I write anymore here, this review will become a book! I do have a few recommendations before you jump in for the journey of your life: 1) Read A Discovery of Witches first. There’s no way you could understand the plot and all the complexity of this book if you don’t know the history of the characters. 2) Many new characters are introduced in this book. Use the appendix/Guide at the end of the book to familiar yourself with them. They are divided by location, quite clever. 3) If you are going to look for a simple, easy read for entertainment, this book is not for you; but if you love history, science, Europe, art, literature, geography, religion, philosophy, (food and wine for ADoW)…then, get this book (and the first).
(Thanks for Penguin Group for allowing me to access an advance ebook for review through NetGalley. This book will be published on July 10, 2012)(less)
Can one fall in love in just one day? When we were young, we believed we could...so did Allyson in this book.
"We are born in one day. We die in one da...moreCan one fall in love in just one day? When we were young, we believed we could...so did Allyson in this book.
"We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day."
Allyson was young, 18, a goody-two-shoes who followed her parents' every advice and was on her road to become a pre-med student. A trip to Europe, or more specifically, a day in Paris, changed everything...Did she see the truth on that day, or a big fat lie?
Allyson was a normal and average American girl who was not particular pretty nor witty. She was awkward in social situations, even, but she was a good thinker, and she did a lot of self-introspection throughout the course of the story. She made stupid mistakes and quick decisions that caused the Mom in me to wince with horror. She made friends, but also lost them. It was heartbreaking to observe Allyson to come of age in the hard way through every error and consequences of her decisions. This story begins when she made a decision to visit Paris for a day with a guy she barely knows, while she was in Europe for her high school graduation trip. The day changed everything in her life.
My bookish friend, Kathleen...once mentioned that she could not resist any YA novels that quote Shakespeare or mention his works. This book will definitely attract her attention. The Dutch boy in the book, Willem, and Allyson met when he was performing as Sebastian in Twelfth Night. Shakespeare's plays and works are subsequently mentioned in the second half of the book, and more intensively. They also sparked my interest in a few plays and I plan to read the original works a bit later. Part of the story also took place in Europe, yet the author described the places quite accurately, (view spoiler)[especially in the second trip. (hide spoiler)] For those of you who has never read Shakespeare, or has never been to Europe, you'll definitely add a few more things to your bucket list after reading this book.
This is another wonderful book from Gayle Forman, the author of two other books: If I Stay and Where She Went. Just like her the format of her previous two books, Just One Day is written in the girl's perspective, and the upcoming sequel will be in the boy's voice.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
There was a question on one of the book pages I frequent: "Name the last book that kept you up all night." It was an easy question for me to answer. S...moreThere was a question on one of the book pages I frequent: "Name the last book that kept you up all night." It was an easy question for me to answer. Since I read all the time, I hardly stay up all night to finish a book; I have all day to do it. However, in a trip to Thailand many years ago, I hid in the bathroom to finish a book, a rather difficult book due to all the historical facts. I hid in the bathroom so my light did not bother the other members of my family (prior Kindle time). The book, The Twentieth Wife, was by this author. Since then, I've read a few more books by Indu Sundaresan, and none has disappointed me. I enjoyed this story as much as, if not more than, all the others.
This book, like all her books, was written with intensive research into the history of India (also England in this case.) The story is centered around the Koh-i-Noor diamond, a gorgeous yellow diamond that's was held by rulers in Hindu, Mughal, Turkic, Afghan, Sikh and finally British, countries. The diamond was once around 186 carats and its name means "Mountain of Light." It has a curse that is believed for centuries to bring bad luck to all its male owners. They suffered from sicknesses, the loss of their throne, or worse, death. Only women owners could wear it safely without suffering any ill effects.
“The diamond is said to have held a curse. Legend had it that the Kohinoor could be safely possessed only by a woman, that no man who had it would long hold his kingdom, and that it could never be worn in the official crown of a monarch (hence, perhaps, the reason it was worn in an armlet or set in a throne). In India, Persia, and Afghanistan, during the diamond’s tumultuous and bloody history, only men owned the Kohinoor.” **
With her known beautiful words and realistic descriptions of people and sights of the period, along with reliable facts, the story begins when the Koh-i-Noor was given to the Punjab ruler Maharajah Ranjit Singh so he could help the Afghan ruler Shah Shuja regain his lost throne. The story ended with the death of Dulip Singh in Paris and the ownership of Koh-i-Noor in British Empire. From page one, the reader will feel transported back to the sound and sight of old India. Through out the book, you will experience the love of the young who are full of hope for a better future; the power of rulers, the betrayal and loyalty of human, the architecture and sights of India, the brutality of conquest, and the sadness and hopelessness of old age and along with losing one’s country. The smell of Chai and saffron will still linger after you close the book. It’s the best journey a reader could ever hope to achieve.
Other than everything that mentioned above...this story offers a very interesting take on the effect of colonialism. It's quite a sad book to read. I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss for the diamond, for the puppet maharajah Dulip Singh...and for his three children that all had no heir. History, which could never be forgotten, influences all of us. Will the human race really learn from their past mistakes?
If you have time, google the Koh-i-Noor and admire it on the crown of the Queen of England. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, regardless how it was obtained…
**Thanks to Washington Square Press for a preview galley. The quote was from the advanced reader's copy. (less)