Thursday, June 14, 2012

Historical Thursday - Death By Petticoat


Death by Petticoat: American History Myths DebunkedDeath by Petticoat: American History Myths Debunked

By: Mary Miley Theobald
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 3 stars

Summary:
Covering many myths which have become "common knowledge" in America, Theobald sets out to easily set the record straight on 63 American myths.

My thoughts:
First of all, yes I know I am reading non-fiction...it happens occasionally...

I thought this was a perfect level for those who aren't hard-core history buffs but still have an interest in history. it is explains these stories  in a slightly humorous, matter of fact way which makes it very memorable. 

The title comes from the myth that colonial women's second leading cause of death was their skirts catching fire. However, this due to the fact that the cottons, wools and linens of their age are far less flammable than the nylon, rayon and polyesters of ours. 

This has more credibility for me than most of the works like this mainly due to the bibliography in the back which allows for checking of the facts. This book is perfect for what it is and is a fun little thing to have on hand. 

Thanks to Netgalley for giving me a copy in exchange for review. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Just a little Something





Here is a picture I just found and I believe that it is something worth considering. Especially in summer when you shouldn't be inside all day. Plus internet has been spotty at my school for the past...ever and so this fits in marvelously with my life right now.

Misc. Monday - The Messenger

The Messenger The Messenger

By: Siri Mitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith 


...until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah's world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?


Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him--and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith. 



My Thoughts:
I love Siri Mitchell, as is evident by the fact that I have already read and reviewed two of her books A Constant Heart and She Walks In Beauty. This is the fourth book book of hers that I have read and I loved it. She has a habit of taking historical eras which are very popular to write about and finding an angle which hasn't been looked at. The idea of being a pacifist in wartime has always been a difficulty and in the Revolutionary War which had a "for us or against us" mentality it becomes much more difficult.

Having such dynamic characters as Jeremiah and Hannah really helped to make this story what it was. From the timid, obedient child, Hannah becomes a woman in her own right with her own believes both political and spiritual.

With two different points of view I expected to get confused at first with the switching between back and forth. Mitchell is quite good at this though and made for very smooth transitions.

If you love historical fiction and haven't read any of her books this would definitely be a great place to start. I love her and can't wait for new books from her.

Thank you Bethany House Publishing who gave me this book in exchange for an honest review. 



Friday, June 8, 2012

Hey All!

So, I am back in the country now, (Italy was AMAZING!!!) and have read a lot of stuff so I will be working on catching up on everything that I have read. I have a lot of stuff that are from different genres from where I normally go so I hope y'all like the change of pace.

Thanks to all for still being with me! I hope all of you are having good summers!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Misc Monday - Uneasy Fortunes

Uneasy FortunesUneasy Fortunes
By: Mandi Ellsworth
Genre: Christian Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads:
Battered by his past, Pete knows he has no business falling for anyone. But when time can’t heal a wound, love steps in to make it right. Based on a true story of the post–Civil War South, this gentle rustic romance will pull you in from the first page and leave you with a renewed hope in the power of real love.


My  Thoughts:
I found this to be a very sweet novel.  All of the characters were more real than what is generally found in romance novels. There wasn't some bolt of lightning romance, as the characters grew their relationships grew with them.  Everyone was facing challenges and figuring out how to deal with them in the best way they could. It's less a story about love and more a story about growing up and learning to live life after tragedy. 


It was a perfect "de-stressor" and something that I read a chapter or two of before going to bed to help calm down after finals. If there was one thing I would change it would be the going back and forth in dialect. Sometimes the characters were speaking "southern" and sometimes "yankee" I wouldn't really care which one was picked, I just wanted the author to choose.


Many Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this book for review.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fluffy Friday - Secrets on the Wind


Secrets on the WindSecrets on the Wind

by: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical, Christian Romance
Rating: 3.5

Summary:
After two people experience things which no person should have to endure one woman brings them together and helps set them on the path to healing. Laina, who was saved from certain death, struggles to overcome what has happened to her and the resulting nightmares. Sargent Nathan Boone still fights to get past the death of his wife. Granny Max helps to guide them to inner peace.

My Thoughts:
Before we seriously begin, I'd like to state that I have no idea where the title came from. It still confuses me. Now on to the real review. 

I have already read a Whitson novel, and find this one to be much less confusing than the other.  It is nice to read about a hero and a heroine who have had pasts that aren't something to be proud of. Too often the knight in shining armor is perfect...and while perfect is nice, for me personally that would be a little daunting. 
I loved Laina. Her inner conflict was fun to watch and see how she grew up and past what she was into the best version of who she could be. 
Also, this book thankfully didn't take the path of least resistance. the characters who I marked as ending up together never did, I like it when that happens. Too often I find things to be too predictable and I get bored.

I would recommend this for people who love historical christian romance.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Historical Thursday - The Book of Madness and Cures

The Book of Madness and CuresThe Book of Madness and Cures
By: Regina O'Melveny
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars

Summary:
Dr. Gabriella Mondini has lost her father, not to death but to study. Her father left her family years ago and now she is going to look for him. A strong willed Venetian female physician in the 1590's the Dotoressa must face many challenges as she travels across Europe to find her father, however she might not be happy with what she discovers.

My Thoughts:

First off, HELLO FROM ROME! That's right, I am going to be in Italy for school for the next few weeks and to honor that, I will be posting a review that takes place in Italy.

How to begin, well to start with, I was really glad when I finished it. It took me a while to figure out why I really wasn't liking the book at all, I mean, it has everything I like. There is a strong willed woman who is breaking the barriers of her age, Renaissance, Italy - everything I like is there. So...why isn't it clicking for me? I think it was the prose of the novel, and the fact that it felt like she had written herself into a corner at one point and was just grabbing at anything to prolong the story and finally to finish it.

I did really like the relationship Gabriella had with her "servants." Yes they work for her but it feels like they are more of parents than servants and when **spoiler** (highlight to see it) one of them dies, well it nearly broke my heart...or at least it should have, I felt sad because I actually liked that character but I didn't fee the grief that I normally would in this scenario.  **spoiler done**

Overall, while it had a couple of good points I would say pass on this one, though as O'Melveny matures in her writing I would keep an eye on her, she has potential for some really good work.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for giving me this book for review.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Historical Thursday - Sixteen Brides


Sixteen BridesSixteen Brides

by: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

Summary:
When 16 women go west searching for land they realize that they have been tricked and are instead being taken west as prospective brides. Well, six women of that group won't settle for that and they decide to go off and start up a claim of their own.

My thoughts:
One point of view is good, Three is difficult but manageable, anything more than that is ridiculous. I almost had to make a chart determining which woman came from where and which man was interested in them. It was so confusing that I spent a lot of the first half just figuring out characters names. Once that all got sorted out however I loved what I was reading.
Each one of these women were very strong characters in her own right and were a joy to read. I like how Whitson was able to create so many variations of womanhood. From a southern belle, a northern woman and her mama and a spitfire red-head all different kinds were shown. 
The men in the novel were all nice as well but it was the women of the novel who really made it for me.

If you have the patience to figure out which woman is which I would highly recommend this novel! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

YA Wednesday - The Académie


The AcadémieThe Académie

By: Susanne Dunlap
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:
As Eliza Monroe goes off to school in Paris she meets Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. Quickly she realizes she is in for a summer that it not at all what she expected. Drawn into the competition between the two, Eliza finds herself interacting with people such as Madeline, a young actress in the Comedie Francaise. All she can do is hope that she doesn't get in too much trouble during a summer she will never forget.

My thoughts:
First off, I love this cover...so much! Ok, now that's out of the way on to the real review. 
This is very loosely based off of historical events but it is fun to read about the time of change that was between the French Revolution and the coming of Bonaparte to power. There were a lot of different viewpoints in this novel and well, I got confused. It took me about a third of the way through the book to figure out exactly who was who and what they wanted and such.  But once I figured that out I thought it was a lot of fun. It was a fun set of misadventures of 3 teenage girls. Not too much silly teen-romance, and just a lot of innocent adventures. 

I found Hortense to be my favorite of all the characters, Eliza was a little too teenage whiny for me, but since that's what she was supposed to be, I wasn't too annoyed by that, I just wanted to get to Hortense's part. 

Overall I really liked it and will be reading more by Susanne Dunlap in the future

Thank you Netgalley for giving me this book for review!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Misc. Monday - Jenna Starborn


Jenna Starborn Jenna Starborn

By: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: 2 stars

Summary:
Jenna Starborn was harvested from the gen-tanks on the planet Baldus. Mistreated as a child she goes on to school and from there to far off planets as a nuclear tech. Here she grows to her place in the universe. A new and intergalactic telling of Jane Eyre.
My Thoughts:
Oh dear...this was supposed to be a retelling of  Jane Eyre (not my favorite story anyway) so I thought it would loosely hold onto elements of the classic novel. Well Shinn had a different plan in mind. Instead of little things here and there, she clung to the story of the classic novel much to the detriment of what could have been a very fun and interesting futuristic novel. Jane Eyre doesn't have the personality that is believable in modern societies. I really had difficulty taking her seriously in her own book so Jenna really wasn't working for me at all.

The only thing that made me finish it was wondering how they were going to get past the cyborg in the mining compound...sorry I mean mad-woman in the attic. I just laughed the whole way through because it was impossible to take seriously.

I really was disappointed with the novel because I think Shinn is a great writer. Oh well, I will stick to her fantasy and be happy there. Pass on this but don't give up on her.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hour 18

The Book of Madness and CuresChange of plans...I didn't like how the last book was turning out. So I will turn my attentions to a different book about insanity: The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny. About a woman doctor in Venice during the Renaissance...Hey, I'm about to go to Venice to study Renaissance art. Sounds like a good pick. I hope it is better than the last one.


Happy Reading to you all!

Ok...8 more left....

Blue Asylum
I am now starting to get a little tired...I just finished The Academie. Now though I am about to get into a new book I am excited about called Blue Asylum. It takes place in an insane asylum post-Civil War. It shows promise...I hope it's good!
If not then I shall have to move on to won of the many other books that I have stacked around. I hope you all are having a wonderful night!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Ninth Hour...

The AcadémieJenna StarbornFinished Jenna Starborn....my review will be forthcoming in the next few days. But I can say that I am happy I am moving on to other things. I also finished 500 words of my paper...1000 more to go! But as I am now taking a work break, I won't be able to really finish working on it until 6. Oh well it isn't really due until midnight so I have time.

Happy readings to you all. I am going on and finishing up The Academie by Susanna Dunlap. Isn't that a pretty cover? She always has covers that I adore. I hope the book is just as good! Check back with you later!


....


It is later...my paper isn't done, I had to work for 3 hours and I just want to read! Why do teachers do this to us?

....
ALL DONE!!! YAY, Now I can do the next 12 hours unimpeded by stupid things like papers...

Hours 3-6

I've just been trucking away here at my reading, took a break for food and now I will be taking a break to do my paper - but as it is about T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land I should get some reading in right? - that is due at midnight....oh goody...but overall things are going pretty great.  Here is a fun book quote for your viewing pleasure (taken from the challenge home)


 

So true don't you think?

Hours 1 & 2

So Two hours down and still going strong. I would be quite said if it were otherwise because a two hour session really isn't that long. One of the mini-challenges hosted for today's read-a-thon asked about books we would want to read in the original language if we could.

Well I am learning French and would love to read Victor Hugo's books in their original language, also there is The Count of Monte Cristo...that would be quite fun. AND The Three Musketeers...it would appear that I am a bit of a francophone.

Well I must get back to my books. This time around rather than having a stack of books specifically picked out for this, I just grabbed the nearest unread book. Right now that would be Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn. I really am on a bit of a Shinn kick right now. I can't get enough of her. You can look down and find my review for her book Troubled Waters. This one is more Sci-Fi which isn't something I have normally read but I am loving it anyway!

See you soon! and Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

24 Hour Read-A-Thon!

So my second round of Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon is coming up! I am so excited you have no idea. I haven't been able to sit down and read solidly for a very long time. And since (almost) all of my papers will be turned in I will have (almost) nothing standing in my way...finals don't matter right?

If you care to join me go sign-up at 24hourreadathon.com and let me know what books you are planning on reading. I still need to figure out exactly what mine will be. More info to follow!

Historical Thursday - The Maid and the Crown

The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of ArcThe Maid and the Crown
By: Nancy Goldstone
Genre: Biography
Rating: 4 stars


Summary:
Politically astute, ambitious, and beautiful, Yolande of Aragon, queen of Sicily, was one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages. Caught in the complex dynastic battle of the Hundred Years War, Yolande championed the dauphin's cause against the forces of England and Burgundy, drawing on her savvy, her statecraft, and her intimate network of spies. But the enemy seemed invincible. Just as French hopes dimmed, an astonishingly courageous young woman named Joan of Arc arrived from the farthest recesses of the kingdom, claiming she carried a divine message-a message that would change the course of history and ultimately lead to the coronation of Charles VII and the triumph of France.


My Thoughts:
This is the first real biography that I have ever read and I must say that I really enjoyed it. I thought I was getting myself into another historical fiction novel, however, when discovering that this was in fact a biography I wasn't at all disappointed. This was quite interesting for me to learn about a time in history which my experience comes from watching Wishbone or other such kids shows which depict Joan of Arc. I loved learning about Yolande as well. She was a really powerful figure and knew how to best wield that power.

I found Goldstone to have a sense of humor in her writing that occasionally made me chuckle to myself. On the whole it was neither boring nor dry. There were parts that I was able to skip though when I felt like I was getting bogged down with story. Also I was wondering why it took so long to end after Joan was martyred. This was because Goldstone not only showed how the war ended (I skipped that part) but also how Joan's name was restored. I had no idea that the French didn't really like her either after she died so I am very happy that we view her as a heroine now rather than a heretic.

If you are looking for a biography of this time or just want to improve your knowledge in general this is a quick way to do it. (It was a nice SHORT read)

Thanks to Netgalley and Viking Publishing for giving me a chance to read this for review!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Misc. Monday - 60 Acres and a Bride

Sixty Acres and a Bride60 Acres and a Bride
By: Regina Jennings
Genre: Historical Romance
Rating: 3.5 Stars


Summary from GR:
With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay. Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future.


My Thoughts:
I had a lot of fun reading this...though I probably should have been writing papers for school at the time. (I can't wait for summer to come!) Rosa was a sweet character who showed the culture clash between America and Mexico in Texas at this time. The fact that this is a debut novel makes me happy because I believe that as she grows and matures as an author, Jennings will be one of the better historical writers. 


Her characters were warm and likable. Weston was the perfect combination of fortitude and protectiveness without seeming to be overbearing. This of course is enough to make the females reading this swoon. Rosa was a good counterpart to him with her genuine goodness and innocence. With both of them struggling to adjust to the curve balls life has thrown at them it is fun to see how they come grow into their new selves. 

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with a book for review!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

YA Wednesday - Troubled Waters

Troubled WatersTroubled Waters
By: Sharon Shinn
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars

Summary:
Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river. 

It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood-and the secrets of the royal family-she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.


My thoughts:
I have read Shinn before (see this other review) and I love her. I love how she is able to build worlds that are believable and wonderful all because they have a hint of magic in them. In the books I have read her magic is more simple than what can be found in things like Harry Potter and other such fantastical things. Instead she deals in a quieter magic - though in this book it's a little louder than in her Safe-Keepers Series. 

I loved Zoe. She struck me as someone who was calm and for the most part in control of her emotions. She didn't sweat the small stuff and yet wasn't passive. She had say in how her story went and expressed it. I loved how she was a mix of the traits which Shinn had made up in this new world. As a coru she is calm like water but also has the spark of sweela which is that of fire. 

I also love that romance isn't what Shinn focuses on. Marriage isn't Zoe's goal, because frankly she is too busy doing other things to worry about that. One thing that I really did love about her is that she lost her temper occasionally. If she hadn't I don't think that I would have been able to like her at all.

I will admit I squealed a little bit while reading, and had those wonderful moments of revelations where I think I know how it's going to end and who the bad guy is and then it turns out to be someone totally different. I loved it. I will probably go out and buy it when I have money. (Or get it as a gift for my birthday or Christmas...hopefully)

If you love light fantasy this is the book (and quite possibly author) for you!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Misc. Monday - The Replacement Wife

The Replacement Wife.
By: Eileen Goudge
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
 

Summary from Goodreads:
Camille Harte, one of Manhattan’s most sought-after matchmakers, has survived more than her fair share of hardships. Her mother died when she was a young girl, leaving her and her sister with an absentee father. Now in her forties, she has already survived cancer once, though the battle revealed just how ill-equipped her husband Edward is to be a single parent. So when doctors tell Camille that her cancer is back—and this time it’s terminal—she decides to put her matchmaking expertise to the test for one final job. Seeking stability for her children and happiness for her husband, Camille sets out to find the perfect woman to replace her when she’s gone. 

But what happens when a dying wish becomes a case of “be careful what you wish for”? For Edward and Camille, the stunning conclusion arrives with one last twist of fate that no one saw coming. 

At once deeply felt and witty, The Replacement Wife is an unforgettable story of love and family, and a refreshing look at the unexpected paths that lead us to our own happy endings. 



My Thoughts:

Caution to conservative readers: lots of strong language and some sex.


I really liked this story. I thought the author did a really good job at portraying a marriage and all that it could go through when facing something like this. It also made me think about what I would do if I had 6 months or so to live. Thankfully as I don't have a husband and kids my choices could be a little more selfish. 


I thought Goudge did a great job with all of her characters I somehow loved Angie in spite of what was going on plotwise, and that was something that really was necessary.Spoiler, Highlight to see what is written If you have a mistress as a point of view character in a story you really have to like her otherwise you will skip most of what she is saying. SSpoiler done.


I did like the way the plot twisted and turned making a few different problems - cancer, cheating, and divorce all be focused on in one novel. I think this was a great book. And really heartwarming in how all of it was dealt with. 


The only thing that is keeping me from giving this five stars is the language and sex which I generally just skipped over. I loved it otherwise.


Thanks to Open Road Media for giving me a copy for review.

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 ...