This was a 3.5 read for me. A light entertaining read with a dollop of intrigue, romance and madcap adventure set in the changing times of the 1920s. IThis was a 3.5 read for me. A light entertaining read with a dollop of intrigue, romance and madcap adventure set in the changing times of the 1920s. I had read the prequel, Whisper of Jasmine, and was fascinated by the attraction between Evangeline and the rakish Gabriel Starke and how their marriage would fare. I was so glad to learn at the beginning that the “widow” Evangeline was now a famous aviatrix, enjoying great adventures with her eccentric Aunt Dove (everyone needs an Aunt Dove to let them explore being all that they can be). As it turns, Gabriel is alive and kicking In Damascus, and to apologize for all that he has put her through by passing on to her a “priceless relic.” Thus the chaotic adventure begins brimming with danger, betrayals, and drama. The witty banter and antics between Evangeline and Gabriel reminded me of the Nick and Nora Charles movies and at times some of proposed actions by Gabriel had a James Bond feel. But most intriguing for me was the interweaving of the history and politics of the time in budding nation of Syria and often this had me overlooking some of the muddling that slowed down the pace and plot of the story. This is my first Deanna Raybourn read and I look forward to reading more about this loosely connected group of friends. Overall fans of Downton Abbey and the 1920s will relish this tale set in a British colonial outpost as the WWI gives rise to nationalism and women earn rights. ...more
My thoughts: • I was not quite sure what to expect when I started reading Secret Son, but I was quickly drawn into the story and found myself captivateMy thoughts: • I was not quite sure what to expect when I started reading Secret Son, but I was quickly drawn into the story and found myself captivated by the writing and the journey of the sensitive naïve nineteen year old protagonist, Youssef. • I wondered about the quote included before the start of the story – “The fact that I/am writing to you/ in English/already falsifies what I wanted to tell you.” (from Cuban American port Gustavo Perez Firmat) but it made more sense when I learned that the author wrote this book for American audiences and yes, the book did appeal to my American sensibilities. • The story is sent in contemporary Morocco after Sept. 11th which helps set the tone of the story. • While each of the characters battles/confronts issues of identity, loyalty, and justice – it is Youssef’s that are the main focus in the book. It is the unraveling of secrets that reveal the cracks in perception that cause personal turmoil against the outside forces beguiling with their promises. • Youssef lives in a slum in Casablanca with his single mother who pushed him that a university education is the way out of poverty. But Morocco has a very stratified class society and while the government speaks that all is possible if…, the actions say otherwise. And when Youssef gets to live this life of luxury and the attainment of a better future looks attainable, the fall back to poverty and the disillusionment of who he is shatters him until another type of dream is presented to him. • This book highlights the struggle of Islamic fundamentalists vs. the corrupt liberalism of the power structure but this fight is definitely geared towards capturing the minds of men because there is not sugarcoating that this is an oppressive society for women. • And while there are probably many answers to the question – “Why does one become a terrorist?” this storyline answers that question as it pertains to Youssef. I thought the author “kept it real” without over simplifying or going-over-the-top and illustrates how complicated and complex the issues of change, modernity vs. traditional, and power are.
This was a 3.5 read for me but rounded up because of the author's unique approach to the storyline.
A sumptuous tale of two sisters and their half-brotThis was a 3.5 read for me but rounded up because of the author's unique approach to the storyline.
A sumptuous tale of two sisters and their half-brother entangled by magic, myth, and the pull of memory tinged with illicit love set in the Virgin Islands. This intergenerational tale covers the years 1916 when the Danish West Indies was transferred to the United States to the 1970s as orphaned sisters Eeona and Annette, often at odds with each other, forge their identities from their legacies commingled with “Americanisms” as half-brother Jacob navigates the muddy waters of lineage secrets. I liked how the use of magical realism gives the story a more unique feeling as it builds tension and moods as readers wonder if the characters decisions are of free will or the pull of the destinies. The transition between first person narrators and the third person narrator seemed choppy at times but I enjoyed how the third person narrator gave their part the feel of oral storytelling. I appreciated how the author effectively blended history, folklore, and family memoir into a spellbinding story. I recommend to readers of historical fiction, magical realism, and Caribbean history. ...more
This is a marvelous research study that informs about a very important missing piece of American history, slave resistance, and self-determination. ThThis is a marvelous research study that informs about a very important missing piece of American history, slave resistance, and self-determination. This book does not leave any stone unturned as I was informed about the development of marronage in the South, borderland maroons, hinterland maroons, their everyday lives and much more. I appreciated how Diouf explored American marronage on the communal and individual levels. This helped to understand how marronage fit into the American landscape and social/economic/political conditions of the times. The stories of the individuals showcased the theory but most importantly illustrated the skills, intelligence and self-motivation to define themselves by their own terms and not to live under the control of others. One of the most fascinating aspects of learning about the everyday lives of maroons for me was about their dwelling structures – the caves and underground structures so close to those who were hunting them yet invisible. Lastly, I was also provided answers as to why this is not a topic as known as “runaways” – little sensationalism in the maroons’ daily lives, their autonomous survival without white involvement had little mass appeal, and southerners really did not want this known outside of their region because of their difficulty in capturing and eliminating maroons. A must read for anyone who is interested in American history, slavery, and resistance to being enslaved. I look forward to this book winning many awards. ...more
Based on the blurb about this book - I expected to "learn/understand" something about dating outside of one's race, but I was disappointed in this debBased on the blurb about this book - I expected to "learn/understand" something about dating outside of one's race, but I was disappointed in this debut novel. It seemed that the author wanted to accomplish too much with this one book - and would make a stereotype statement and then made the characters fit that statement instead of the reader learning this through the action of the characters. The transition between the chapters was abrupt at time and as you were settling in on a character and their situation - it switches up I also thought that the secondary characters could have been more effectively used to enhance the storyline It seems that all dialogue between the characters related to "race" and/or why dating within/outside ones race - this got really tiring - as we did not really learn anything else about the characters I also found the story outcome pretty predictable While this is a topic that is frequently discussed - I thought the author would have best served to present this volume of material in a non-fiction format or to do this as a series of fiction novels where the reader could get to know the characters better and be able to present the issues more deeply than just a "statement."...more
Ms. Jenkins has done it again - written another wonderful historical romance story that will entertain as well as educate. This is a well paced story wMs. Jenkins has done it again - written another wonderful historical romance story that will entertain as well as educate. This is a well paced story with a bad boy hero that you will just love as he takes care of business. There is a very good cast of secondary characters - some real, some fictional, some new and some from other of Ms. Jenkins story. Very good job of informing on the contributions of blacks (free & slave) to the Revolutionary cause - whether on the Tory or Rebel side. This is history that you will not learn in school....more
I enjoyed this story. This book was a nice blend of sweet romance, hot love scenes, and a mystery. The characters were well developed and realistic. It wI enjoyed this story. This book was a nice blend of sweet romance, hot love scenes, and a mystery. The characters were well developed and realistic. It was a well paced story with a very realistic storyline. This was the first time I have read a book by this author but will not be my last....more
I actually rated this short story collection 3.5 The stories in this collection were well written but many left unanswered questions for me. I am lookiI actually rated this short story collection 3.5 The stories in this collection were well written but many left unanswered questions for me. I am looking forward to reading a novel by this author. The stories were about the challenges/choices young African American woman need to navigate as they navigate their way in the bigger world. I thought that this book would be excellant reading to begin discussions with young women....more
**spoiler alert** Eight years into her fairy-tale marriage, Elsie Kolstadt hears her biological clock ticking and, would like nothing better than to h**spoiler alert** Eight years into her fairy-tale marriage, Elsie Kolstadt hears her biological clock ticking and, would like nothing better than to have a child with her husband, Robert. But, Elsie is confused on how selling a customer a get-well floral arrangement has triggered the uncontrollable erotic thoughts that are becoming more and more frequent. At first, Elsie contributes it to not being intimate with Robert for the past several weeks due to her husband’s busy work schedule. But, she begins to notice that the sexual fantasies are becoming more about the mystery man in the fantasy then the sexual act itself. Elsie thinks that some of these fantasies can be used to spice up her sex life with her husband, but begins to see him in a different light as he berates her for being aggressive in their lovemaking. Elsie, once again yields to his wishes, and tries another path to get pregnant which will eventually leads her to understanding the person she has become in her marriage to Robert. Elsie wonders what has gone wrong with her relationship with Robert. Is it her or is it him, and what does this mystery man have to do with any of this?
As Elsie, is the only narrator of the story, I had to experience the story at Elsie’s pace as she goes from learning that all is not healthy in a marriage when one partner controls the other partner. The author did a good job of showing how Elsie becomes aware of her situation, and the moment that their relationship change is apparent to me. It was a realistic approach to a relationship that is mentally abusive. The author did a good job of getting into Elsie’s head and showing me how Elsie realizes that not all acts of thoughtfulness are done as act of kindness. The erotic scenes are tastefully done, and will entertain the reader. I liked the idea of Elsie taking her erotic daydreams and using them to help spice up a marriage. The storyline moved along quickly and there were several suspenseful moments when I was not sure what the outcome would be.
As this is an erotic novel, once Elsie does decides that she wants out of her marriage, and connects with the source of her sexual fantasies, she immediately jumps into another relationship while still living with her husband, and this may offend some readers. I would have liked for Elsie to be independent, receive counseling, or become part of a support group before being seriously involved with someone new. I recommend this book to fans of Kayla Perrin and readers who enjoy storylines of sexual awakenings. ...more