Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Night of a Thousand Stars by Deanna Raybourn

I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

Another great novel from Deanna Raybourn! I just love her style, which is breezy and engaging.

Like her previous novel City Of Jasmine, Night of a Thousand Stars takes us to the Middle East for another adventure. And we see characters from Raybourn's previous books pop up, and there's even a connection to her Lady Julia books!

The opening chapters grab you immediately: a runaway bride who is helped in her getaway by a curate. I am already wondering about this gutsy heroine, who is already making a pretty bold decision.

Finding herself seeking a purpose after ditching her fiance at the altar, with her newly obtained ladies maid, she goes out in search of said purpose. And in trying to find her curate to thank him, she finds more than her purpose, she find a life-altering adventure.

Like I implied at the beginning, the writing flows easily. If you liked Raybourn's other books, especially her recent ones, you'll like this just as much.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

First of all, I highly recommend reading the prequel to this novel: Whisper of Jasmine. It shows how Evie and Gabriel met, and gives good insight into the beginning of their relationship.

That being said, City of Jasmine takes place in 1920 Syria, and seeing as how I didn't know a whole lot of what was going on in that area then, I learned a lot. Evie and Gabriel were thrown into lots of adventures and came across a lot of suspicious characters, some dangerous, some just shady. The descriptions and seeing the area through the eyes of Evie totally brought the country to life. The descriptions were not overdone, but were the right amount.

While I miss the Lady Julia books, I'm just happy to have another book by Deanna Raybourn. Her style and feisty, independent heroines are still strong in books like City of Jasmine.

I couldn't put this down! Deanna Raybourn fans will not be disappointed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Two Mrs. Abbotts by D.E. Stevenson

I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

The Two Mrs. Abbotts is the third book in the Miss Buncle series, and while the title suggests it's about the former Miss Buncle and her niece-by-marriage, it is really not.

Of the two, we spend the most time with the younger Mrs. Abbott: Jerry. We see Barbara every now and again, but her story line is nothing substantial. Actually, none of the story lines are. There are just too many characters and too many plots going on that it's hard to keep it all straight.

This is a weird little book, because while it takes place during World War II, it's about nothing at all, really. There are certain characters that we see for a little while, and then they disappear never to be heard from again. And at the end of the book, there are a bunch of characters' stories still hanging there.

Unfortunately, the charm of this series dissipates with each book. If you like books set in the country during this time period, then this is probably your thing, but it just wasn't mine. If you liked the first book Miss Buncle, don't feel the need to continue because the two books after it are just pale imitations, sadly.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tuscan Rose by Belinda Alexandra

I received a galley of this novel from EdelWeiss for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

I have been wanting to read this book for probably two years, and I'm so excited that it's finally being released in the states.

I love historical fiction books set in Italy during WWII, and in my opinion there are not enough. I feel that most people don't understand about Italy's involvement during the war or the horrors the people of Italy went through during the Nazi occupation.

Tuscan Rose didn't mince anything. It showed the true story of Italy during the time of Mussolini and WWII through the eyes of fictional characters, who are probably not unlike the real people who lived through it. Mussolini was an absolute madman, and that's putting it lightly. He single-handedly ruined Italy, all because he wanted to be Hitler's lapdog. And for the horrors Italy went through during the Nazi occupation, you can read my review of The Villa Triste, which focuses just on that specific time.

The book ran a bit long, sometimes there was almost too much detail. When the partisans were discussing strategy, I admit to just skimming. Even if I read it word for word it would have went over my head.

The story follows the character Rosa over a period of fifteen years. When we first find her she's sixteen and living at a nunnery where she was left sixteen years prior by a mysterious man called The Wolf. We see through her eyes the rise of Mussolini, the war, and the occupation. Over the years she grows from an innocent young girl to an efficient woman doing whatever it takes to survive and save the ones she loves.

The ending was a rollercoaster ride. I went from crying my eyes out, to being in shock over something I never saw coming. What a twist!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

I echo the sentiments of other reviewers: this is very different from the first book.

First of all, this book takes place almost entirely in France, during the time of Napoleon III, where Katharine goes to search for Lane. Second of all, the story takes place over a wider area, whereas the first book took place in a confined area of a small town.

Intrigue ensues, with shady characters, royal secrets, and the like. New characters pop up, who I quite like and hope to see again, if there is another book, that is.

I can't guess what a third book would be about. This book didn't end with a question mark like the first book, which I knew would have a sequel. I guess we'll just have to see.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games by Cecilia Tan & Bill Nowlin

I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games would be better used as a reference book rather than the sort of book you would read in order – that becomes tedious after a while.

Cutting down over 100 years of games down to 50 memorable ones was, I'm guessing, not an easy task. There is a list of games at the end of the book that didn't make the cut, and any one of them would have fitted right in to the final 50. Not all of the 50 games featured here ended well for the Red Sox, but they were still games that are etched in Sox lore.

One of the chapters I appreciated was the chapter that highlights game six of the 1986 World Series, a game that before 2004 memories led to nothing but anger for Sox fans. What I appreciated was how it talked about how messed up it was that Buckner ended up being the goat for the whole thing, when really he should have never been in the game in the first place. That I knew, what I didn't know, but learned from this book, was that immediately following the loss, Buckner didn't take the blame. Actually, it was years later, after endless re-showing of that ill fated play, and yahoos talking about that stupid 'curse' (which I never believed), that the play became something bigger than the game. Overnight, it seemed, people forgot about all the blunders that led to that play, and the fact that the manager refused to take an injured Buckner out of the game.

I would recommend this to people who are new fans, or just baseball fans in general that don't know much about the history of the Red Sox. It covers from the 1903 Boston Americans (before Fenway even existed) to the 2004 World Series Champs.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Naples '44 by Norman Lewis

I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

I've been wanting to read this book for a while, so I was thrilled when I got to read a reissue.

Naples '44 is based on the diary of British soldier Norman Lewis, who was a part of the British Intelligence Corps in Naples after the Nazi occupation. Through Lewis' eyes we see the immediate after effects of the Nazi occupation, and through the next year we also see how the locals did what they had to to survive.

At first, the Italians are happy that the Nazis are gone, but there are some who do not care either way, and after a period of time, the Allies have pretty much worn out their welcome. You can see that the Italians just want their country back, and want to start rebuilding.

I really liked the culture clash we saw. Lewis wasn't afraid to admit that he didn't always understand the things that the locals did – the traditions and all that. He also wasn't afraid to admit a few blunders.

Towards the end of the account, Lewis has achieved a great respect for the Italians, and admires their strength. He even says that if he could be born another nationality, he would want to be born Italian, which shows how great his view of the Italians had grown over the year. He ends the account with his last day in Naples, and how he will miss it and the friends he made.

Naples '44 is essential reading for someone like me, who is absolutely fascinated with Italy during the war. Highly recommended, as it is very readable and not very long.