Genre: Fiction

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Book Review: Ivory Ghosts

June 3, 2015 Book Review 1

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Ivory GhostsIvory Ghosts by Caitlin O'Connell
Published by Alibi on April 7th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 240
Source: complimentary review copy
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A new female heroine to watch, American wildlife biologist, Catherine Sohon, escapes tragedy in South Africa to take a position at a remote wildlife preserve in Namibia, South West Africa.  It is there that Catherine has been planted to both study the elephants and in her undercover role, discover who is poaching the elephants.

On her way to the preserve, Catherine stumbles upon a brutal murder thrusting her headfirst into the mystery of poaching and this preserve.  The vast knowledge O’Connell has of elephants becomes apparent early on.  It is the majestic elephant and the raw beauty of Namibia that highlight the novel.  Catherine is an unlikely heroine finding her strength through tragedy and her love of Africa and it’s elephant plight.

The first person narration was not my favorite choice.  At times it made conversation seem stilted.  Overall, the plot was fast-paced with a slight dip in the middle of the novel.  As a debut novel, Ivory Ghosts is a good beginning to what should prove to be a smart series with a female protagonist that has both heart and intelligence.

Recommended for those who enjoy smart, unexpected heroines like T.E. Woods The Fixer  or Jaime Lee Moyer’s Delia’s Shadow.

 

Thank you so much TLC Book Tours for inclusion in the Ivory Ghosts tour.

To read additional reviews please visit TLC Book Tours.

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Book Review: The Dream Lover: A Novel of George Sand

June 1, 2015 Book Review 4

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: The Dream Lover: A Novel of George SandThe Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
Published by Random House on April 14th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 368
Source: complimentary review copy
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Having never read a George Sand novel but always interested in the persona, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to read and review The Dream Lover.   It was also my first Elizabeth Berg novel and an introduction to George Sand, the author and person.

If you’re not familiar with George Sand, she was born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin.  As a young journalist in Paris she quickly learned how to dress as a man in order to get the cheaper theater tickets.  She is known for being a prolific writer and lover ~ writing novels and essays in abundance while collecting lovers in abundance along the way as well!

Although the narrative is in the first person, neither the ‘voice’ and personality of George Sand nor of Elizabeth Berg were apparent.  It did not read as a diary nor as a stranger in a coffee shop relaying her life experiences ~ felt more like a biography without the heart and soul of the person.

It became apparent very early on that George Sand/Aurore perpetually made the same mistakes in each subsequent relationship or affair.  She’d fall quickly ‘in love’ with the same type of person, have the same issues as the previous relationships and continue the cycle over and over and over again.  Because of the vicious never-ending cycle it almost would have been better to have read about one of George’s conquests with the added statement that this same occurrence happened every few years with x number of people.  Reading the problems she had in her relationships seemed like I was reading the same chapter over and over just different names.

I must admit though it was fascinating reading about the Paris of the day and learning of the different creatives George Sand was involved like Frederic Chopin, Gustave Flaubert and the infamous actress, Marie Dorval, Sand’s believed one true love.  I imagine in the day George Sand would have made front page headlines every few months with her actions.  Unfortunately, I just did not connect with her in The Dream Lover.

What famous literary character can you see making front page headlines constantly?

Thank you so much TLC Book Tours for inclusion in The Dream Lover tour.

To read additional reviews please visit TLC Book Tours.

 

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Book Review: A Fireproof Home for the Bride

March 25, 2015 Book Review 0

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: A Fireproof Home for the BrideA Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 10th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 384
Source: complimentary review copy
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A slow, yet methodical, building of the plot to an ultimate firestorm;

A coming-of-age novel with a strong female lead;

Issues of family secrets ~ how do you handle learning the people you love are not who you thought they were?

Racial tensions ~ the white man against anyone not white, male and Protestant.

Religious intolerance ~ strong intolerance by the Lutherans of the Catholics; I can’t even pretend to understand the conflict here, but I think that’s the point.

Why I Read A Fireproof Home for the Bride  the charm of the 1950’s with secrets & struggles & enough family strife to make it real + a heroine worthy of cheer = yes, please, give me more!

What I Would Have Liked Better Having read this one in a couple of days, it’s apparent that there wasn’t much I didn’t like!  The ultimate firestorm was a bit over-the-top taking away from the believability of the story but not so over-the-top that I didn’t want to finish.  At times it was hard to keep all of the characters straight between the Brann’s and the Nelson’s and which belonged to which family and then throw in her father’s extended family and it got to be a bit confusing.  I muddled thru, obviously!

Please Give Me More The characters were so fully drawn I felt I knew them.  I’ve always heard that Midwesterners were hard workers, especially the farmers.  The author did a fabulous job of making these Midwesterners real, not stereotypical – she showed  us rather than told.  I lived on my grandparents farm for a few years growing up and I know it’s hard work, long hours with very little pay.

Interesting to Note  I was not aware the Klu Klux Klan had such a prominence in Minnesota during the ’50s or that Mexican field workers from Texas would migrate to Minnesota to work the farms & in the sugar beet factories.  Fascinating the things one can learn from fiction!

If you liked The Swan House or The Boston Girl then you may enjoy A Fireproof Home for the Bride. Recommended.

What book have you read recently where you learned something new about history? 

 

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Book Review: Some Luck

March 5, 2015 Book Review, reviews 9

Book Review: Some LuckSome Luck by Jane Smiley
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing on Ocober 7th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 395
Source: purchased
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For a couple of years while growing up we lived on my grandparents farm in Tennessee.  I learned early on what makes a successful farm: a ton of hard work, dedication and some luck!

Set in the Midwest town of Denby, Iowa, Walter Langdon marries the prettiest girl in town, Rosanna, and sets up home and farm just outside of town.  Soon the babies start coming; first Frank then Joe, Lillian, Henry and finally Claire.  Covering 1920 – 1953, each chapter represents one year and we get a brief peek inside the lives of the Langdon family.    Frank makes his own way, is headstrong and stubborn yet also brilliant.  Joe is considered the ‘whiner’ and yet his particular gift of stewing over an issue brings him and his family success; Lillian is the angel, naive and beautiful; Henry has no interest in farming and somehow escapes much of the farm life work ~ he reads, and reads and reads; Claire is her daddy’s heart – is it because Walter has the time later in life to focus on Claire or is it because Rosanna seemed to have a bit of postpartum blues or a combination?

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about Some Luck ~ Is it a sweeping family saga or a book without a plot?  I think it is one of those that you either hate it or you need a few days to think it over and find that months after the fact you’re still pondering the Langdon family.  That’s where Jane Smiley has created a brilliant novel ~ it gradually gets under your skin and you find yourself thinking about the Langdon’s long after the book is closed.

Some Luck mirrors life ~ there’s a few big things that happen but mostly we get by in the everyday-ness of life.

Why I picked up Some Luck

I picked this one up because I’ve got Early Warning on my queue to review, and I wanted to start from the beginning in Smiley’s trilogy about the Langdon family.

What I would have liked better

There are a LOT of characters by the end of Some Luck and though Smiley includes a family tree at the beginning, I found myself having to look back quite a bit.  Before I start Early Warning I am going to print out the family tree!  Not every chapter includes each of the children or their friends and then subsequent spouses.   Since I had to read this one over a couple of weeks rather than all in a couple of sittings, it took me longer to get reacquainted with who was who.

Please give me more

Henry!  It seemed to me that Frank ended up as the accidental protagonist, but it was Henry that I was drawn to.

Interesting to Note

The discussion questions in the back of the novel really got me thinking about how so much about each character and the time period is revealed through atypical means.  For example, Walter resists getting a tractor for the longest time (times were changing, farming was evolving) and Frank’s character flaws are shown through Joe’s behavior (Frank is not a very nice brother toward Joe).  If you read this one be sure to check out the discussion questions ~ reading through those alone will reveal the brilliance of this author.

If you like A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler or Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem then you may enjoy Some Luck.

What book have you read recently that kept you thinking about the characters long after the last page was over?

 

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Book Review: The Unquiet Dead

February 9, 2015 Book Review, reviews 8

Book Review: The Unquiet DeadThe Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Published by Minotaur on January 13th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 352
Source: purchased
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I am a sucker for a mystery that incorporates religion or historical fact.  When a book includes all three I’m over the moon.  And if it has a bibliography then I’ve died and gone to heaven.  Such is the case with The Unquiet Dead.  {if you’re in my postal book club stop reading now}

When the Bosnian war broke out I was pregnant with my first child.  I can remember watching the news accounts, horrified at the victimization of so many, and appalled at how little the U.N. seemed to be able to help.  Little did I realize the news accounts were woefully under-informed.

Set in Canada, The Unquiet Dead follows Esa Khattak and his partner, Detective Rachel Getty as they navigate the delicate religious sects in an attempt to determine if a death is suspicious, or not.  Esa was appointed head of a unique task force that investigates crimes with religious leanings ~ he is especially qualified as a 2nd generation Canadian Muslim to wade the murky waters of religious acceptance.

Because of Esa’s familiarity with a witness to the possible crime, Rachel is called in to be both objective and protection.  She is given no information about the case and is expected to observe without bias.  She is given as much information as the reader, actually less, and it was so interesting to learn the facts of the case right along with her.

Ausma is a talented writer with impeccable timing.  Just as Rachel was about to get too frustrated with the lack of transparency from Esa, I, the reader, was also bordering frustration.  Then bam! The next kernel of evidence and information was revealed.  This bit of writing finesse kept the plot moving at almost break-neck speed.

What is but isn’t a complaint ~ I wanted to savor each small revelation and work at slowly figuring out what was what.  I couldn’t do that though, because I HAD TO read fast so I could unravel all of the layers of mysteries. One small issue was with Esa.  Without revealing any spoilers there’s a part where he acts out of character.  I get it though, taking into consideration the underlying storyline with Esa and the witness, but geez! I thought he was made of stronger stuff 😉

Please read this one.  The mystery, the underlying psychological subtleties, the religious intolerance {and acceptance} are all each and of themselves enough reason to read The Unquiet Dead.  Throw in the historical fact of The Bosnian War and that makes this book a knock out of the proverbial park.  Highly, highly recommended.

[Tweet “Mystery that tackles 3 world religions with sensitivity and a senseless war with deep respect.”]

As a side note, some of the actual historical statements from endless testimony regarding The Bosnian War is used throughout The Unquiet Dead.  It gives even more credibility to the sensitive, respectful manner in which the author portrays the horrors of war.

Putting money where my mouth is {well, really my fingertips that are typing away here} I am giving away two copies of The Unquiet Dead to my lovely readers.  Everyone is welcome and encouraged to enter as long as you are over the age of 13.

[promosimple id=”6a1c”]

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