Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday Fun - The Movement of the Stars


The Movement of Stars: A NovelThe Movement of Stars: A Novel

By: Amy Brill
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price has lived all twenty-four years of her life according to the principles of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. But up on the rooftop each night, Hannah pursues a very different—and elusive—goal: discovering a comet and thereby winning a gold medal awarded by the King of Denmark, something unheard of for a woman.

And then she meets Isaac Martin, a young, dark-skinned whaler from the Azores who, like herself, has ambitions beyond his expected station in life. Drawn to his intellectual curiosity and honest manner, Hannah agrees to take Isaac on as a student. but when their shared interest in the stars develops into something deeper, Hannah’s standing in the community begins to unravel, challenging her most fundamental beliefs about work and love, and ultimately changing the course of her life forever.

My Thoughts:
I loved this book. It was a slower pace than what I have been reading lately and I thoroughly enjoyed the change. I thought it would be a nice novel - historical, charting how Hannah became an astronomer and whatnot. What I didn't expect was that the book would explore the difficulties of racial issues, reconciling the faith of your fathers with your personal belief system, and gender equality.

All of these subjects - which are still relevant to our time - were covered without coming across as didactic. Hannah was a great lens through which to view the time because in her pursuit for truth she didn't seem to have the ability to see the importance of color, gender or belief. She simply went quietly in search of truth. I loved how she was able to stand up for her beliefs, declare what was in her heart - but still love those who believed differently than she did. 

Hannah is a strong, flawed and complete character and I loved to read on her story and go with her through her journey. It was a wonderful read. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

YA Wednesday - A Matter of Magic


A Matter of Magic (Mairelon, #1-2)A Matter of Magic

By: Patricia C. Wrede

Genre: Historical Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
When a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into a traveling magician’s wagon, Kim doesn’t hesitate. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London, Kim isn’t above a bit of breaking-and-entering. A hard life and lean times have schooled her in one lesson: steal from them before they steal from you. But when the magician catches her in the act, Kim thinks she’s done for. Until he suggests she become his apprentice; then the real trouble begins.

Kim soon finds herself entangled with murderers, thieves, and cloak-and-dagger politics, all while trying to learn how to become both a proper lady and a magician in her own right.

My Thoughts:
Everyone has probably figured out by now that I have a thing for magical novels...they are kinda sorta basically my favorite - if they are well put together and these ones are.

First off, this is two books published together - kind of like my one of my favorite fantasy novels Crown Duel and it was great to not have to wait to read the next one but just follow the story. I loved the characters - Kim had everything I loved in a heroine - mainly she was her own character, romance really wasn't something on her agenda and she was sharp as a knife. I was kind of reminded of the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for a slightly younger audience. And Mairelon - the magician who finds Kim - is wonderfully exasperating and needing to go off on adventures. He doesn't care about what society thinks and I loved seeing his reactions to all of the chaos which surrounded him. 

I finished the book last night - having stayed up far later than I intended - and was left wanting to search for the next installment of the series...sadly I don't know if there is one, though goodness knows it would be a marvelous thing. If you want Regency England with Magic, this is the perfect book for you. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Must Read Monday - Chateau of Secrets


Chateau of SecretsChateau of Secrets

By: Melanie Dobson

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars

Summary:
A courageous young noblewoman risks her life to hide French resistance fighters; seventy years later, her granddaughter visits the family’s abandoned chateau and uncovers shocking secrets from the past. Gisèle Duchant guards a secret that could cost her life. Tunnels snake through the hill under her family’s medieval chateau in Normandy. Now, with Hitler’s army bearing down, her brother and several friends are hiding in the tunnels, resisting the German occupation of France.

But when German soldiers take over the family’s château, Gisèle is forced to host them as well—while harboring the resistance fighters right below their feet. Taking in a Jewish friend’s baby, she convinces the Nazis that it is her child, ultimately risking everything for the future of the child. When the German officers begin to suspect her deception, an unlikely hero rescues both her and the child.

A present day story weaves through the past one as Chloe Sauver, Gisèle’s granddaughter, arrives in Normandy. After calling off her engagement with a political candidate, Chloe pays a visit to the chateau to escape publicity and work with a documentary filmmaker, Riley, who has uncovered a fascinating story about Jews serving in Hitler’s army. Riley wants to research Chloe’s family history and the lives that were saved in the tunnels under their house in Normandy. Chloe is floored—her family isn’t Jewish, for one thing, and she doesn’t know anything about tunnels or the history of the house. But as she begins to explore the dark and winding passageways beneath the chateau, nothing can prepare her for the shock of what she and Riley discover…

My Thoughts:
I love that cover, so I made it a little bigger - doesn't it just look gorgeous to you?

So I read this in one sitting as the internet had gone out and someone had to watch the house while the cable guy took a while to fix it. But it was a very pleasant way to spend a Friday. I was reminded a little of the work of Kate Morton (The Distant Hours, Forgotten Garden and others are all amazing) In that it was a book alternating the story lines from the past and present trying to help families figure out their pasts. It was great to read about France during the occupation, and I feel like because of the book All the Light We Cannot See (I'm currently reading it, review to come) it is a part of history that many people are interested in. 

It discussed the ideas of who are the good guys and the bad guys? And is it still possible to be a good person when circumstances force you into doing things you would rather not?

I found it charming and sweet, with characters who were well written and fleshed out. I loved the growth of both Gisèle and Chloe. However I wasn't entirely content with Chloe's ending. Spoiler*** I wouldn't have had her end up in another relationship so soon after a break up, please just let her move to France and start that home for orphans like her dad wanted, No need for a relationship!!!***Spoiler done.

It was a good novel and one that I think could be good for book clubs to spark up some discussion and debate. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Musings

Ok, let's be honest, I really don't know who out there is reading, or even if I am putting things up that people want to read. I blog about books for many reasons.

First and foremost - so that I don't feel like I am wasting my time by reading whenever I want. I mean I can delude myself into thinking that if I blog and help other people know if it is a good book or a bad book then I am helping the world at large! Yes it is a good thing to be reading all day (Did I mention that today I sat on a couch and didn't move until I had both started and finished a book I had been wanting to read.)

Second - Well I do want to help people find books that otherwise the would have not found. But I don't know what the genres interest you, the reader (there are what 14 of you? Thank you followers!) And I don't always want to go with the best seller list because we know that:
If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. –Haruki Murakami

So I find myself reading random things that jump out at me from the library shelf or from my goodreads page. 

Third - It has kind of become a habit for me. I finish a book, I write a post. I started so that I could qualify for free galleys and whatnot and then it just became an exercise that I *try* to do every week.

But I don't know if this is something I want to keep up, I am trying to get into grad school and that in and of itself is crazy! And I don't know if anyone will notice if I stop blogging or if they will care. So I leave it to you readers...Do you want me to try and keep this up? If so I will do my best to make it better, to try and get some interviews with authors, some book give-aways and contests and make it more fun. So the choice is yours.

Thank you for all that you do lovely readers, if you want me to stay let me know either by following me, or commenting below. :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fantasy Friday - Stolen Songbird


Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)Stolen Songbird

By: Danielle L. Jensen

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars 

Summary:
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

My Thoughts
I needed a full 24 hours after reading this book before I could pick up another one. I needed a cathartic relief because I was enthralled by Trollus and wanted to be there. I wanted to live in this world, I wanted this to happen to me. And when I think about it all I want to do is to read it all over again. It is a mix between two of my favorite fantasy novels Crown Duel and The Hollow Kingdom (review to come shortly) and I loved every moment of it. I can say that it is perhaps the best modern fantasy that I have yet read. Jensen's world building was wonderfully done and she did it all without getting bogged down into the details as she introduced us into this new world. I could gush for a really long time...

I love Cecile. She is smart, strong and a wonderful heroine. She can be funny, and while thrown into a world roiling with dangerous politics she can hold her own. And Tristan...I love him. I just want them to communicate more. But, well communication is everyone's problem and it furthered the plot well. I loved the other Troll characters - the twins Vincent and Victoria and Merc, the first troll you meat. I love their distinct and fully formed personalities. I love the politics and the secrets and the schemings. 

Even the villains are well thought out nd developed so that they have decent motivations and we as the readers can know them. One thing that I wish I could have seen more of was (Spoiler highlight to see) the use of the bonding magic. In the world when two trolls are bonded they can feel what the other is feeling, and so Cecile and Tristan can feel each others emotions - including things like pain and hunger - I just wish that she had used more of this wonderfully amazing idea. (Spoiler done)

The biggest drawback is that the next one doesn't come out until June 2nd...I will be counting the days.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Historical Tuesday - The Brickmaker's Bride


The Brickmaker's Bride (Refined by Love, #1)

The Brickmaker's Bride


By: Judith Miller

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
Yearning for a fresh start, Ewan McKay travels with his aunt and uncle from northern Scotland to West Virginia, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial assistance from his uncle Hugh. Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, but it's Ewan who gets the business up and running again. Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Besides, Ewan has resolved he'll focus on making the brickmaking operation enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business
and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Scotland.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work may come to naught. As his plans begin to crumble, Laura reveals something surprising. She and her mother may have a way to save the brickworks, and in turn Ewan may have another shot at winning Laura's heart.

My thoughts:
This was a fun little read. When you want good clean romance this is a great book for that. I loved Laura and her mother and their interactions. It was a great mother daughter relationship to read. It was also nice to have a new time period and problem faced. Ewan was a great leading man and I found myself rooting for them.

The only reason I kept it from 4 stars was that the villains seemed far too one dimensional for my liking and  it at points I was just wondering why anyone still talked to them. 

It was a sweet christian romance and if that is what you are wanting to read this is a good pick for you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Misc. Monday - I'll Be Seeing You


I'll Be Seeing YouI'll Be Seeing You 

By: Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan

Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary:
It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home. 

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

My Thoughts:
I am going to buy this one rather than just settle on  it being from the library because I love the language that these women use. It had the wonderful charm of  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but here on American soil. 

I loved watching how the women came to know each other and the power which letters have in helping friendships grow. It actually made me really sad to be living in a time where letters are obsolete - and when it comes to communicating with friends e-mail seems to be as well. 

The beautiful advice which was passed between women, and the strength which the pulled from each other as each of them had their lives changed by the ravages of war made me get out my highlighters and mark the whole thing up (Don't worry my librarian friends it is still in perfect condition.) One of my favorite lines though was:

“Did you ever catch a glimpse of what you could be, if you really tried at life?”

Maybe because I am young and at a place where I don't know what the future holds but this line really rang through me. Almost all the prose is like that. Wonderful, deep but not trying to be. It is simply two WWII wives passing along recipes and advice for how to survive the war - and all of the problems that just generally happen in life.  

Book clubs will love it - READ IT!

Shame Nation

Shame Nation Genre: Non-Fiction Rating: 4 Stars Summary My Thoughts: This is a book everyone needs to read. The title perfectly fits ...