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review 2017-10-23 19:00
The Shogun's Queen by Lesley Downer
The Shogun's Queen: The Shogun Quartet, Book 1 - Lesley Downer

Only one woman can save her world from barbarian invasion but to do so will mean sacrificing everything she holds dear - love, loyalty and maybe life itself . . .

Japan, and the year is 1853. Growing up among the samurai of the Satsuma Clan, in Japan's deep south, the fiery, beautiful and headstrong Okatsu has - like all the clan's women - been encouraged to be bold, taught to wield the halberd, and to ride a horse.

But when she is just seventeen, four black ships appear. Bristling with cannon and manned by strangers who to the Japanese eyes are barbarians, their appearance threatens Japan’s very existence. And turns Okatsu’s world upside down.

Chosen by her feudal lord, she has been given a very special role to play. Given a new name - Princess Atsu - and a new destiny, she is the only one who can save the realm. Her journey takes her to Edo Castle, a place so secret that it cannot be marked on any map. There, sequestered in the Women’s Palace - home to three thousand women, and where only one man may enter: the shogun - she seems doomed to live out her days. But beneath the palace's immaculate facade, there are whispers of murders and ghosts. It is here that Atsu must complete her mission and discover one last secret - the secret of the man whose fate is irrevocably linked to hers: the shogun himself . . .

 
**********
 

The Shogun's Queen is such a fantastic book. My knowledge before this book about Japan during 19-century was very limited and I enjoyed both getting a fictional version as well getting a history lesson all in one book. It's actually a very tragic book, the end of the Shogun's regime in Japan that we get to see through the eyes of Okatsu, a girl that was chosen to try to stop the barbarians from taking over the realm either by forcing or by bullying the leaders into giving in. Reading how the Americans and the British, etc. practically set an ultimatum to the leaders to open the borders so they could get into the land made my blood boil. The audacity to think that they had that kind of right is infuriating.

Okatsu, later Princess Atsu, life is fascinating to read about, and through the book did I really hope that she would achieve her goal, and save the realm, but she faces a lot of obstacles in the Women's Palace. To get the Shogun to listen is hard, especially since he is controlled by his mother. And, the Shogun mother is not a woman that will see reason, all she wants is to control her son and what happens outside the walls of the Women's Palace is second that. It would perhaps be easier if the Shogun had been more of leader, but this is a man that should never have ruled. He may have been born to be the Shogun, but he had not the mental capacity for that. Which his mother took advantage of.

The Shogun's Queen is an engrossing book, well-researched and it left me with a need for reading more about Japan and the Shogun's. I loved that it's through Princess Atsu that we get an insight into the chaotic time period. She may be trapped in the Women's Palace, but it's there that so much happens, and it's there that the faith of Japan will be decided...

 

I want to thank the author for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

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review 2017-10-23 17:49
Review: Legs by Kelly Siskind
Legs (One Wild Wish, #1) - Kelly Siskind

Legs is the delightful and heart-felt start to Kelly SIskind’s new One Wild Wish series. Bringing wit, a strong female lead, and a whole lot of heart to this first book, Ms. Siskind has once again created a world and group of friends I would love to be part of. At times I was laughing out loud, while sniffling during others. Set in and around the wine country of Northern California, Rachel and Jimmy meet when she shouts an embarrassing statement just as the music stops at the nightclub where she is celebrating her birthday with her BFFs. Soon the two are vying for the same sommelier position in a silly contest. What starts out as playful flirtation, turns into a intoxicating love affair, one that pushes comfort zones and tests the heart.

 

Jimmy is a powerful man who owns his emotions, even when they get a bit out of control. Having been hurt by his family and the woman he was set to marry, Jimmy is slow to trust and isn’t looking for the sunshine Rachel brings into his life. Meanwhile, Rachel is so scared of disappointing her mother again, that she’s living an unfulfilling life and playing it safe. Jimmy shows her that it’s okay to be who she really is inside, but she often lets her fears keep him at arm’s length. I enjoyed watching the pair come together. I loved how Jimmy realizes what Rachel means to him and works hard to bring her around. Yet when he makes mistakes, it’s bad. However, between Rachel’s kind and forgiving heart and Jimmy’s own insight, the pair can move past hurts towards a better future. 

 

The story takes some ups and downs as it progresses to its HEA. One of the lows is near the beginning, after the pair’s initial hookup. *potential spoiler alert* Rachel was so inebriated that doesn’t recall their marathon all-nighter. *end spoiler* This situation is used by Jimmy to taunt and tease Rachel, and I was a little uncomfortable with the entire situation. However, Ms. Siskind spins it in such a way that eventually worked for me as it progressed. Additionally, there is a twist in the later part of the book that at first had me thinking “really?” but as it moved forward, once again worked out. I like that the author could put me in uncomfortable situations and then bring me around to embrace my feelings, making the highs feel that much lighter.

 

In the end, I loved Rachel and Jimmy and really enjoyed reading Legs. They each feel and experience so much, shared through inner thoughts and private moments. I delighted in watching them work out demons and move forward together.

 

My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot

Review copy provided by author

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

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review 2017-10-23 14:13
Burnt Offerings ★★★★☆
Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Robert Marasco,R.C. Bray

Wonderfully creepy vintage horror that is so perfectly 1970's that it's almost funny. What happens when a bored housewife who fills her time with cleaning and decorating and shopping for stuff gets together with a hungry old mansion that needs to be revitalized? Ohhh yesss, she can clean and organize and decorate to her her heart's content. And does she mind a little sacrifice to have the beautiful home and perfectly set table of her dreams? After all, Mother does so much for us. She provides it all. 

 

Audiobook via Audible. RC Bray's performance was okay, but he tends to have a sort of deadpan tone of voice that can become dull and droning at times. 

 

Previous Updates:

10/21/17 2%

10/21/17 24%

10/22/17 49%

10/22/17 76%

 

 

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review 2017-10-23 13:05
A Hummingbird Christmas (Glacier Creek Book 1) - Karen Foley

A Hummingbird Christmas By Karen Foley Book starts out with Joy and her daughter Piper who have traveled to Glacier Creek, MT to spend time with her dead husbands family. Her husband was a smoke jumper jumping from planes to fight fires, along with his best friend Cole Tanner who she just crashed into on the blizzard road. He drives them to their destination and eases Piper into seeing all the cookies that were made just for her. Joy's job here will be getting everyone to help celebrate this holiday, even though they are down in the dumps that Matt isn't there with them... They also see the hummingbird and Joy says it's a sign from heaven where Matt is. It's winter and they are not known for the cold weather. I have heard the same about cardinals-a sign from heaven. Cole takes them into town for the festivals and Piper is overjoyed. Love hearing from others who live and work in the town, such a welcome and warm community. His secrets do come out but is it what she wants to hear about....she has her own problems and wants to keep them to herself. Like how the parents treat them both and how changes need to come about as they've all been grieving too long. Kind of a predictable story line but the process was good. Like hearing of his and her careers and how they are done, also holiday decorating. Sex and romance are indicated by not expressed. Other works from Tule Publishing are highlighted at the end and an excerpt from Heat by karen Foley is included. Won this in a book contest and this is my honest opinion.

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text 2017-10-23 03:39
Burnt Offerings - progress 76%
Burnt Offerings: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Robert Marasco,R.C. Bray

I'm not sure how what all is going to happen here, but I have to take comfort in the fact that I'd never be a victim of this house, because I'm not crazy enough about cleaning and organizing, or about other people's possessions, no matter how remarkable. 

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