Jam on the Vine takes us into a fully realized part of history as we journey with one family through Jim Crow Texas and the realities of being a persoJam on the Vine takes us into a fully realized part of history as we journey with one family through Jim Crow Texas and the realities of being a person of color in a white dominate world. This reality is even more harsh for Ivoe as she is black, a woman, and educated. She dreams of a journalism career but is un-hireable according to the newspaper world even in the lowest rungs of the profession. The story was eye-opening as it showed an active civil rights movement in place long before the Civil Rights Movement that I learned about in school. Many of the strategies employed by the later movement were being created and tested in the early 20th century. It also contains several stories that left me feeling ashamed and outraged at the treatment of Ivoe and her family and friends. The story left me feeling both hopeful and heartbroken.
I really should like historical fiction more than I do. I am fascinated by history across the world and across time periods and always enjoy filling in some of the humongous gaps in my geographical and historical knowledge. However, in my fiction, learning something new is just not enough to make the reading experience fulfilling. Many historical novels fail to engage me a emotionally, somehow distancing me from the characters. This always leaves me feeling both a little guilty that I didn't empathize fully with the characters' plight and dissatisfied. I wonder if this is a result of authors writing too precisely or being more interested in factual details than the emotional repercussions. Barnett did better than most historical fiction authors I have encountered at creating that emotional connection, but there were still parts of the story I felt disconnected from. ...more
**spoiler alert** First Line: "'How much longer, Mama, must we tolerate this gross humiliation?'"
Alexia continues to be one of my all time favorite he**spoiler alert** First Line: "'How much longer, Mama, must we tolerate this gross humiliation?'"
Alexia continues to be one of my all time favorite heroines and Blameless was another engaging, humorous, and entertaining addition to the series. The previous book left both Alexia and myself heartbroken. But in the beginning of this latest story, Alexia is her normal, practical self. She carries on with her life despite her emotional state, her family's kicking her out, and the general nastiness of gossip surrounding her situation. She decides to go on a quest to figure out just how she became pregnant by an immortal. She is joined by her close friends in her trek and it is not long before they discover that the vampires are out to kill her. What follows is a fast-paced race from England through France and into Italy, where Alexia encounters a variety of quirky characters that sometimes help and sometimes hinder her journey. She eventually finds herself a captive of the rather stoic Knights Templar, where she discovers more about her past, her own nature, and the nature of her future child. The audiobook narrator was still excellent at portraying Alexia's personality flawlessly and in creating the variety of unique characters that surround her. However, I will mention that she seemed to read the story at an unusually slow pace. There were often long pauses between characters speaking - enough so that I would think the conversation was over. It was a bit disconcerting for a while, but I did finally settle into her flow. I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment, due July 2011....more
This one received high praise in the last year or so, which always makes me a bit leery of reading a book (I'm just contrary that way). However, thisThis one received high praise in the last year or so, which always makes me a bit leery of reading a book (I'm just contrary that way). However, this one completely stands up to its reputation. The two authors writing together resulted in two very distinct voices for the two Will Graysons of the title. They also managed between them to create one of the most fabulous characters I've ever met - Tiny Cooper. I loved all three of them and they were unexpectedly real. My very favorite thing about this story, though, is that it delves into one of my favorite topics: Friendship. Although the story features lots of romantic love, it's really a love story between friends. The authors take a look at the fact that our friendships are some of the most important relationships and will often outlast relationships with significant others. Yet, we don't have milestones or rituals to celebrate the growth (and the decline) of friendship. We don't even think of these relationships in terms of "love" most of the time. It is up to each of us individually to recognize the people in our life who are real and true friends and to create our own celebrations of that relationship and to express our love for that person either verbally or through our actions. Just like any other relationship, if we ignore it or undervalue it, we will lose it. This book is an excellent reminder to go hug or call all of your favorite people....more
**spoiler alert** First line: "The carriage jolts and splashes along the rutted lanes flooded by the heavy November rains."
Wildthorn is a combination**spoiler alert** First line: "The carriage jolts and splashes along the rutted lanes flooded by the heavy November rains."
Wildthorn is a combination of Gothic novels and Old Skool Romance. I did enjoy it, although the reading experience was not life changing or particularly unique. I picked it up because I love to read about the history of psychology and mental illness. I am frightened, disgusted, and strangely intrigued by all the crazy treatments that the professionals of the day thought would be a good idea (I mean really, who came up with lobotomies?). Wildthorn was inspired by true stories, and I would not be surprised if things in nineteenth century asylums were even worse than described in the book. Any time a group of helpless people are put together in a room, some crazy sadist will find a way to be in charge of them it seems like. I would really suck to be a woman any time since the last fifty years or so. What I find fascinating is that any form of independence or intelligent actions in women were believed to be insanity or unnatural. If you did anything to annoy the men in control of your life it was likely to be the convent or the asylum for you. I'm not sure which I think sounds worse. I did enjoy the romance in this one between Louisa and one of the attendants from the asylum. This novel addressed some serious issues, although I found many of the solutions a bit too simplistic and would have liked to see the author delve into these things a little more. Overall, it was worth my time....more