Legend...occult....fantasy....you are never sure what is real, dreamed, or imagined but I loved every minute of this fantastic novella. NEED more! RevLegend...occult....fantasy....you are never sure what is real, dreamed, or imagined but I loved every minute of this fantastic novella. NEED more! Review to come....more
The Scent of Triumph, by Jan Moran, is a beautiful book on so many levels! For some reason, I become often really attached to books on perfume, or othThe Scent of Triumph, by Jan Moran, is a beautiful book on so many levels! For some reason, I become often really attached to books on perfume, or other such goods/products that are passed down as an art form from generation to generation. That the novel was set amid the turmoil of WWII, just made the book more exciting for me as it’s one of the historical periods that I most like to read about, especially in terms of what happened to families, occupations, and in turn, how their lives were most often changed.
You can see quite easily upon reading that Moran did extensive research into the time and place for this book. Couple that with exquisite character development, with characters who are fully dimensional and connective, as well as lush descriptions and fluid sentences, and this novel came together as one that I had a hard time ever putting down. It’s a novel that absorbs and captivates you, compelling to read it in one sitting.
Not only that, but I love reading about women who overcome adversity by showing great courage and strength. In her main female character of Danielle Bretancourt Von Hoffman, we have a woman of such caliber and yet who holds so much grace. She is a perfumer in an old family business and she’s talented, as she has the gift of scent, one in which allows her to pick up nuances of fragrances and how they react together, in order to create perfection. It’s her passion, as is keeping her family business and history alive for future generations.
When WWII breaks out, she’s left to rebuild her life and her business, to use her art form and gifts to start anew again in a new place. From Paris to Hollywood, Danielle has to leave her life behind and fit into the glitz and glamour of America in the 1940s. I LOVED all the details of perfume and fashion of the time. Moran certainly also did her research in these areas. Chanel is one of my very favorites, as a strong business woman and innovator, and Danielle’s spirit mirrors a little of Coco. She’s very driven in a male-dominated world and it’s her passion for her work that drives her forward.
Of course, as with the alluding tension in the opening scene, there is also romance. But it’s the type of romance I prefer, a little more subtle and not overpowering Danielle’s obvious independence. It’s enough to make you want to turn the pages, but not distracting to the overall story. It’s more a ships passing in the night-type of romance. The type that makes your own heart flutter for them. You’ll definitely feel for Danielle as she also struggles with family and life moments in regards to children and how families are torn apart during war time. I know I anguished a bit for her and yet cheered in her determination to keep herself, her family, and her art afloat amid very difficult times and circumstances.
There’s a lot packed into this book, but you never feel burdened by any of it or not complete, and I felt that all parts are intertwined elegantly together into a story of devotion and zeal. This one woman will steal your heart with her unwavering spirit.
An eloquent novel that will sweep you back in time to a place of struggle and fervor for living, Scent of Triumph will leave you breathless, yet overjoyed at the nature of women who struggle to define and keep hold of their families and their art.
If you like any of M.J. Rose’s novels like I do, especially The Collector of Dying Breaths, you’ll love Moran’s Scent of Triumph. Moran’s ability to take you back in time and place, opening your mind and senses, is truly her gift as a storyteller and a writer. I hope to read more by Moran in the future!
If you want to get lost in a book, I highly recommend this one!...more
I absolutely loved Rebecca Kanner's debut novel, Sinners and the Sea, when it published last year. I was thrilled to read it again for her virtual touI absolutely loved Rebecca Kanner's debut novel, Sinners and the Sea, when it published last year. I was thrilled to read it again for her virtual tour and offer my review as it was captivating and enthralling. Rebecca is a seasoned writer of fiction and essays, even though this is her first book, so you have an amazing well-written novel that features lots of layers of thinking past the initial premise of being a biography of biblical Noah's wife.
Mentioned only briefly in the Bible, Noah's wife was simply called wife, as well as throughout the book, as she had no name. She was born with a birthmark on her head which targeted her as a very evil demon who must possibly do all sorts of things like change into lizards, goats, and what not, or change other people into those, while killing and eating babies or whatever other outlandish stories masses of people come up with for those are slightly different. With a mark of the devil, and her mother having run away, the woman who would become Noah's wife only has her father to protect her from the village people who wish to kill her. When Noah comes from afar on his decrepit donkey (in fact, Noah is probably 400 years old or so at the time himself with a long straggly beard and bowed legs), she knows the mark has sent her on a journey in order for her survival.
I take away just from the beginning of the novel Rebecca's themes of humanity's issue with people not being pure in their beauty, or perfect, or different. People are so paranoid of others that they spin outlandish stories, create fear, and tell stories in order to justify themselves. When it's a woman who is imperfect, it can be even worse. For women are already the devil's temptress, aren't they? (that was sarcasm....)
I also can read through the lines and compare this woman being marked to what it was like for Jews who were marked by a yellow star during WWII Holocaust and had to hide to save their lives. She hid behind the lentil sacks in her small tent with her father without a name to avoid persecution and the Jews lives were stripped, names replaced with numbers, and they had to hide or escape to avoid persecution. It's also true for any other groups, still even today, who are marked by groups of others or governments (or religious leaders), persecuted, beaten, and killed. It's even as true to think about women with tattoos the small of their back, forever branding themselves "tramps" in the eyes of the world for its placement. Or, and this is featured in the book as well, it is almost norm for those who are disabled or slow to be made fun of for something they cannot help, yet people fear their imperfections so much they shun or are cruel to these people. Who are these that judge to think they are better than anyone else? We are all created differently, on the inside as well as the outside, and have various beliefs and opinions that are important to us as well as circumstances.
In the case of Noah's wife, she is taken by Noah to the desert to a place where all sinners are exiled and marked with an X. Though she is marked too, it is in a different way and she must hide her mark with a scarf and still not go out much for fear of being called a devil woman even from these people who don't follow God's rules. They just don't want any bad luck or magic to come against them further. The people there steal, loot, kill, and fornicate to such a degree that really they do nothing else; disease is rampant, and life is miserable for them, as well as frustrating for Noah as he tries to save them all. But he can't. They have no way to stop doing the things they do to survive, even if they fear or want to know God.
Noah's wife does befriend the most dangerous woman of the bunch, who kills to survive and runs a prostitution ring, yet has a slow daughter that seems so pure, innocent, and kind. Noah's wife loves her and wishes for her to be part of her family yet Noah won't accept that as she is mentally challenged and might bears sons as such. As this woman, named Lavan, and Noah's wife learn to assist each other after working together trying to save three babies from the hands of murderers, they learn an appreciation and understanding for each other. She even helps Noah's wife deliver her three sons that she finally gives Noah. It's interesting then as Noah is so conflicted over saving these sinners that he rarely calls his sons by their names as well as completely ignoring them as one whores around the sinner camp and tent brothels, one makes jokes, and the other is God-fearing yet does not seem to find his father's eye or respect. It reminds me of another father I know who spends so much time thinking he is wonderful for helping other people, taking in needy, and "feeding his flock with the word of God," yet forgets almost completely about the details of the lives of his three sons. Wouldn't God have wanted Noah to love his three sons as He loves himself those sons He gave Noah? Was the frustration eating away at Noah so widespread within him, and his focus so much toward doing God's will and spending hours talking to God about how to save the sinners, that he forgets his own wonderful children--about being a father himself not to only the flock, but his own sons?
In the novel we live through Noah passing out the message that the world will end except for those directed to be in the Ark. The Ark isn't the main focus of the novel, but more towards the late middle to end as Rebecca sets the scene for us as to the people in exile in the desert, allowing us to know them as well as offering deep development of Noah's family, Lavan, and her daughter, Henai.
But the horror of the flood, of the issues that come with the people below the Ark--those dying and those fighting to survive--knowing the characters who die, and relating that to actual people who died is hard to fathom. With emotion, we imagine the Earth being wiped out. It all wasn't so simple as the rains came, the floods came up, the Ark floated along, and then the sun came out and the world was new. It was so much more than that and Rebecca put so much emotion and care, as well as action and suspense, into this section. And the family issues that occur between Noah's sons and wives just adds to the fervor with which I shake my head, and yet I know, in every stressful situation where people see their lives flashing before their eyes and the fire of survival burning in their hearts, passion, jealously, and the worst of our human personalities can arise.
I loved this fictional biography of Noah's wife as Rebecca truly showed us a woman of strength. A woman who was marked and yet overcame it, letting her mark lead her life toward true meaning. I realized she was truly "marked" but in a much more special way. The novel has her marked to save the world, bringing hope and kindness to others, to become the mother of the world. She is vibrant, passionate, compassionate, and intelligent. She is nurturing and loving. She is humble and offers grace and mercy. Yet, all she wants is a name. Will she get it? I'll let you find out. But after I've read this book about her, I feel that Rebecca made me want to KNOW this woman. Andy maybe in some regard I already do.
Sinners and the Sea ends with thought-provoking content that really speaks to the fact that all different "types" of people make the world go round. That annihilating entire races is really not the answer in which to create a perfect world.
I would highly recommend this book to those who love historical biographical fiction from the time of the Old Testament and those who enjoy books with strong female leads. Be prepared for it to not be full of fluff though, Rebecca holds nothing back when describing the horrors of being in exile, living in filth, and the rampant prostitution. However, it's deep, philosophical, and shows the strength of the female. As for myself, I will cherish Rebecca's book and let it serve as a reminder of humanity....more
I thought about just not writing this review and begging forgiveness. The reason for that being that it’s for the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s The GI thought about just not writing this review and begging forgiveness. The reason for that being that it’s for the eighth book in Anna Belfrage’s The Graham Saga series, which is also the last. Yes, To Catch a Falling Star is the last. Crying ensues from everyone, everywhere (cue Kleenex!). This really is a best-loved series by so many, and I am included in both the crying and the loving. However, since Anna told me recently that she may re-visit some of the characters, I’ll choose to keep hope alive.
What might I think of this final book To Catch a Falling Star, this epic tale of Matthew Graham and Alexandra Lind and family, you ask? As always, Anna has great characterization. The proof of this is our connection to her characters over the series. I know I’m not the only one who fell in love with the Graham family. In this final book, we still see the enduring love and support of Matthew and Alex, both for each other, as well as their grown children.
We also see a great amount of adventure, action, and trauma. I mean, Anna can’t write a book that doesn’t make us all cry and tug at our heart strings. Poor Alex is always heavy in heart over one of her children. The situations as each go their separate ways is sometimes sad, as well of course, the fact that Anna doesn’t shy away from the hard emotional scenes that include death and grieving. She writes with real authenticity and pours everything out onto the page.
In the plot of this particular novel, Matthew receives a note from Luke, his brother that he hasn’t spoken to in many years, informing him that he now owns the family manor in Scotland. Of course, I know why Alex would be wary, she isn’t keen on seeing Luke and she isn’t thrilled about going to Scotland. It’s 1688 and there is religious and political upheaval. Matthew seems surprised at how much Scotland has changed, once he arrives with Alex and a few of their children. As always, it can’t be easy and some tragedy ensues, leaving Alex wondering when they’ll be able, and if they’ll be able, to return to their home in Maryland.
I know Alex wasn’t happy to be going to Scotland, but I did think it was great for Anna, as the author, to let her character of Matthew return to his roots, as well as enjoyable that we, as readers, are returned to the start of it all in Scotland. It does seem fitting also, the return, as she writes in a way to wrap things up and come full circle, just as their lives have come around to older age. They need to be able to make amends and face things from their past. Matthew and Luke also having an understanding, so her story is a little about brothers too. Matthew making resolution with his brother, as well as the relationships between the sons of Alex and Matthew as grown brothers. We see love, remorse, sadness, healing, forgiveness, redemption, loss, and joy.
I think that the main plot, which is really the love story of Matthew and Alex, all comes around and ties up nicely. Their love endures throughout the saga and we are left feeling that Alex’s time slip was the best thing that ever happened to her. We are left feeling good by the end, though I don’t want to give it all away, so I’ll just say that I felt it was a very fitting ending.
One of the side stories I found interesting was with Alex’s son Issac, who is a gifted painter. When he falls through a painting he time slips 300 years into the future! This is something I’ve always wanted to do, might I add! However, he does have a bit of a struggle as he tries to paint his way back. I thought it was so fitting to find that Alex’s son, like herself and his grandmother Mercedes, is also a time traveler! He also has a bit of her personality! I always felt like one of the children should have the gift as well.
Of course, there are several other stories and issues occurring throughout the book in regards to historical situations that Alex and Matthew’s children and family find themselves in that make for excellent reading. The action propelled me through the pages, the dialogue kept my eyes moving. I should choose favorites, but my favorite side story of one of their children is Samuel. I enjoy his story. I’d be sad to not hear of him again.
Thinking back throughout the series, I do feel that the books have gotten so much better with ever increasing quality of writing and story telling, even with adding more and more historical information with each new time and place. I especially enjoyed the last few books. Anna’s writing is quick-witted, focused, interesting, and engaging. I like how Anna writes of Matthew and Alex in terms of religious and political situations as well; both characters always seem to be the peace makers or at least are very good at making each side see the other side’s story. They are able to get out of some very sticky situations. I think they teach readers strength, courage, and compassion. This final book is a true testament to a wonderful couple, one that balances out each other with fine precision, though not always with ease.
Anna has created a beautifully written series that should adorn anyone’s bookshelf. I know they’ll urge to be read many times again (I don’t think these characters will rest!). The notion of time slipping is captivating, but what is truly spellbinding is Anna’s writing–her characters, her life humor, her long-abiding love story. It’s an unforgettable saga that is to be passed among generations, as time has no boundaries in regards to it.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner was an amazing cache of intrigue and suspicion. I had hoped for nothing less from a book surrounding the Tudor familyThe Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner was an amazing cache of intrigue and suspicion. I had hoped for nothing less from a book surrounding the Tudor family and their era of rule in England. Though plenty of books about Elizabeth I or Henry the VIII line the shelves of many bookstores and libraries, Gortner’s work of historical fiction spins an original yarn about an orphan boy, Brendan Prescott, who has a birthmark which supports his possible royal lineage.
Prescott may or may not be from the Tudor line during the entire book and is probably being used as a pawn to the advancement of others. He discovers all this during his time of being a spy for several men who are historically accurate names of men that actually become attributed as those who discovered the art of intelligence. At times in the novel Prescott is uncertain who he is even spying for, yet his own heart is always true to Elizabeth I and her safety.
The Tudor Secret is so full of suspense that pages will turn like they are on fire. You won’t want to put this book down for fear you will miss something. When you do put it down, it will still have you wondering so much about its twists and turns that you’ll want to pick it back up again and read until you know the secret.
The Midwife's Tale was an exciting new mystery by first time novelist and histoGiveaway on my blog until Feb. 6, 2013....www.hookofabook.wordpress.com
The Midwife's Tale was an exciting new mystery by first time novelist and historian, Sam Thomas. The book, set during the mid-17th century during the time of unrest known as the English Civil Wars, takes us on a rousing adventure of a midwife turned detective. Stephen Cooper, a man with political enemies, is killed and his wife is found guilty without a proper trial. It's up to her friend to save her or she'll burn at the stake.
A woman with admirable girth, protagonist Bridget Hodgson is a midwife and widow of respectable status which allows her to move around the city and speak to men as most women of time are not. It also allows her to be privy to a wide range of gossip of news. With her newly acquired maidservant, Martha, who has her own story to tell, Bridget sets out meeting around town and begins to make enemies of her own.
Based on a true midwife from the era who lived in York, Thomas does a remarkable job of spinning a tale utilizing her profession as a foundation for a fiction novel. He is outstanding at casting suspicion on all the book's supporting characters so we can't quite figure out who might have poisoned Cooper or if his wife is innocent. The only delay that Hodgson can bring to the wife's death sentence is to point out that she is pregnant. But is she really? Who is telling the truth and who is spinning lies? How far would someone go to protect their secrets?
With all the political intrigue in the novel, rebels fighting against the King and everyone playing both sides to be in favor with whomever wins, it certainly is any man's murder. But I bet you'll be surprised who actually commits the crime.
Filled with life that's brimming with horrible class distinction in the various area of York, Thomas' historical knowledge of this time period adds to set all the scenes with great detail and visual. I could totally see this as a BBC show with a midwife detective. And might I add, that this man knows a lot about birthing a baby. The scenes portraying Bridget's work as midwife--even through to the emotional upheaval that the career brought with it--were phenomenal. Though I love history, I honestly say I do not want to time travel back to this era and proceed in becoming pregnant. Life was hard for women of any class, but especially for servants and in the poorer of any city's areas.
I can't wait to read more mysteries from Thomas and hope he writes more!! I enjoyed my time reading it in no time flat. If you're a fan of history, sleuthing, and strong female protagonists, The Midwife's Tale is certainly a must-have read. The style of writing reminded me of C.W. Gortner's The Tudor Secret; however, Thomas winds a tale to us from the deepest part of the society up giving us a glimpse into a character that can move about between both poor, common, and aristocrat with same level of humanity and accountability for all.
I was thrilled to read D.W. Bradbridge's second book, A Soldier of Substance, after reading his first book called A Winter's Siege and loving it. He'sI was thrilled to read D.W. Bradbridge's second book, A Soldier of Substance, after reading his first book called A Winter's Siege and loving it. He's a superb writer--very intricate, detailed, yet entertaining, as well as vibrant, suspenseful, and of course, the use of wonderful vocabulary always wins points with me. As well he has a way of capturing in pristine fashion a time and place based on historical research mixed with a bit of imagination.
With A Soldier of Substance he completely delivered on all those levels and beyond. I was completely compelled by where the story might be going from very early on. He intricately wove plot points together with surprises and twists that made me smile or sit up straighter, urging me on to read this animated murder mystery that also carried with it an enormous amount of historical intrigue just right for some long nights of reading. I was swept away by his descriptions and immersed in Daniel Cheswis--the main character who is the constable from the first book turned detective, spy, and now possible cheese vendor--and his adventures in a way that made me want to be his right hand woman. I suppose the cheese had something to do with that as well...I mean I am a lover of cheese. *smile*
Speaking of cheese, the setting of Chester, with their Cheshire cheese, was like historical heaven for me! I LOVED the historical tidbits and his particulars of the setting really astounded me and made me a very happy reader. Taking place in the late 1600s I really enjoyed learning about the "row" system in Chester, where the residential houses were lined in front by the merchant shops, as well as each of the various merchant areas such as the Buttershops Row (where the Seaman family comes into play, of whom many Bradbridge fictionalized except William Seaman who was actually the person first recorded to have a shipment of Cheshire cheese), Bakers Row (his details made my mouth water), Mercers' Row, and so on. I really enjoyed how he gave me enough to allow a proper picture in my head. I was captivated by the specifications he meandered me through during dinner parties, those of which he made me jealous I was not in attendance, and yet, he also had amazing characterization and fashion sense of the time. I loved all the supporting characters--they were very well done and Bradbridge did a super job of giving each an air of mysteriousness.
Of course these are just the type of additives that Bradbridge includes surrounding several plots that are intertwined as smooth as spreading cream cheese. There is the intrigue and suspense factor, with the Royalists versus the Parliament sympathizers and their preparation for and subsequent siege of Lathom House, run by Lady Derby. The various spy "tools" and tricks that were strewn through the story were so original and creative that I found myself quite pleased, sometimes more than even when reading my beloved Bond novels. I think Bradbridge utilized some of the most unique spy and mystery methods for clues than I've read in any other historical mystery. I would list some of my favorites he used, but I don't want to give away any of your own reading excitement.
As for the mystery, of which a woman is murdered with a cheese wire, that was also very well done and he certainly kept me guessing up to the end. I was held in suspense as he carried me away to the military tents and maneuvers, which was also excellent in terms of historical and military accuracy as well as details, while dropping clues along the way to entice my mind. It takes quite a bit for my mind not to wander and I have to say it never did in regards to this mystery.
This would make such a fun Masterpiece Theatre mystery movie or mini-series! Living in America, it was interesting to read about these smaller parts of British history and civil war that we don't often hear about here. I really like how Bradbridge, in both of his books, really delves into the history of the region where he lives and brings history to life.
A Soldier of Substance is an entertaining historical mystery that makes for a perfect weekend, coupled with Ye Olde Cheshire cheese, crackers, and a glass of Bordeaux! This novel has excellent and precise writing and impressive period details!
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review....more
In full disclosure, I beta read this last year before submission and helped Glenn with some of the content. But I loved the story in this book when IIn full disclosure, I beta read this last year before submission and helped Glenn with some of the content. But I loved the story in this book when I read it. I've always been a huge sci-fi fan in regards to aliens. This reminded me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but in an even more entertaining way. Glenn writes very under the radar. By that I mean, we have a surface story in which we get to know the characters, but we also have an underlying theme and story line that glides under cover. Take time to let this book seep into your psyche and understand that the characters are the true stars in this story. If you like small town stories that allude to aliens, then this one might be for you. It's one of my favorites by Glenn....more