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review 2017-11-18 22:31
Once Upon a Maiden Lane Mini Review
Once Upon a Maiden Lane - Elizabeth Hoyt

Perfect novella at the perfect time. I adore this series and when I saw that this novella came out, I snatched it up. Sweet, romantic, sexy, and a few twists thrown in. Loved Mary and Henry as a couple. Bonus for small glimpses of other Maiden Lane characters from the series. 

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review 2017-11-18 12:35
The IT Girls
The It Girls - Karen Harper
Sisters, Lucy and Elinor Sutherland grew up on the sleepy island of Jersey.  They were insatiably curious and had large ambitions; ambitions far bigger than the island.  Upon meeting the notorious Lillie Langtry one day in their youth, the sisters decide that they will one day become much more.  Through time, hard work and dedication, the two women eventually do realize their dreams. Lucy transforms into Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon fashion designer and entrepreneur extraordinaire.  Elinor becomes Elinor Glyn, scandalous romance writer whose books went onto the big screen.  Both Lucy and Elinor became the 'It' girls of their day; however, while both women excelled in their career goals, their dream came at a price in other areas of their life.

Elinor and Lucy quickly pulled me into their world of daring, creativity and determination.  I was amazed at what these two women accomplished in their lives, especially for women living in the early 1900's.  The story follows Lucy and Elinor from their youth through later life bouncing back and forth between the two women.  The writing showed the 'it' factor of each woman without laying it out.  Lucy had amazing grit while opening up her own fashion enterprise and ingenuity enough to make change in the fashion world.  Even though I knew of Lucille Duff-Gordon, mainly through her voyage on the Titanic, I never knew of her impacts on the fashion world and how they are carried through to the present.  Lucille was the first to use live models and do runway presentations,  she also led the way to get women out of corsets and into more natural silhouettes.  I did not know much about Elinor Glyn, but it seemed that her style of romance writing had an impact on many people.  It also seemed that she made an impact on Hollywood romance as well!  While the sister's careers and social standings skyrocketed, I was surprised to see that their personal and family lives took a toll.  Both women struggled in marriage and didn't seem to have strong relationships with their children, often living in separate countries.  This imbalance, to me, was a strong commentary on the lives of women at the time, showing that even successful, strong women had to choose either career or family.  Overall, a wonderful portrait of two strong, important women in history.  

This book was provided for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2017-11-18 06:24
The Alchemist
The Alchemist - Alan R. Clarke,Paulo Coelho

I bought this book while in Amsterdam for a couple of reasons:  The title first caught my attention, and the friend I was with said he'd read it and thought it was... ok.  But mostly because of the title. 

 

Since buying it I've read a lot of reviews that say it's... ok.  Which is why it sat on my TBR for so long.

 

Now that I've read it, I understand why a lot of people might think it's just ok.  Reading it, I'm left with comparisons that include fairy tales and Pilgrim's Progress; allegory plays a big part in this tale, although the message isn't all that hidden.  And the author doesn't even try to hide his, or his characters', faiths or spirituality; it's not preachy, but God and Allah are at the root of the plot.

 

Still, it's beautifully written, and well translated.  The allegorical nature of the story and the third person POV kept me from really being invested in what happened to anyone, but I did appreciate the truly omnipotent and omnipresent role the author gave to God.  He never tried to restrict the deity's role to just a traditional Christian or a traditional Islamic one; when he claims God is everywhere, he doesn't go about contradicting himself.  My appreciation for this refreshing lack of hypocrisy went a long way to overcoming my ambivalence about the fate of the characters, and elevated my appreciation of the book to a notch above 'ok'.  

 

If you prefer your spiritualism to be deity free, you're not going to like this book.  If that's less important to you and you're intrigued by the question of "why are we here?", this might be worth a look.

 

 

Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue),

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review 2017-11-18 06:02
Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick
Romancing the Scot (The Pennington Family) - May McGoldrick
Authors holding $100 Visa gift card giveaway to celebrate new series! Click Giveaway for chance. Ends Nov. 26

3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Napoleonic Wars are over but the political maneuverings are far from, Grace and her father are traveling with messages from Joseph Bonaparte to his wife Julie. They are attacked and Grace ends up hiding in a crate that gets shipped off to Scotland. As the daughter of a French cavalry officer with Jacobite ancestors, Grace finds herself in a perilous position when she awakens in the home of a former English cavalry officer and current judge. 
Hugh still blames himself for not being able to rescue his wife and son during the war; he therefore likes dangerous hobbies such as ballooning. When an unconscious woman is found in the new basket he had delivered, he can't help but be drawn to her. 
Grace and Hugh may have been on opposite sides of the war but their serendipitous meeting will have them joining together.
 
"I shouldn't have kissed you," she finally managed to whisper.
"No, it was I," he said, his gaze still setting her body aflame even from two steps away. "But I don't regret it, and I don't think you do, either."
 

 
First in the new Pennington Family series, Romancing the Scotis a rich and intriguing tale. Hugh is our viscount, former cavalry officer, and current judge hero, whose parents you might remember from the authors' Scottish Dream Trilogy. I greatly appreciated the authors' attention to Hugh as a judge. We don't get a courtroom scene but instead an engaging look at how he approaches his cases, specifically through a case involving a deaf and mute woman accused of murdering her child (in the author's note, the case is said to be based on a real one). This approach not only allowed Hugh and Grace to bond through solving how to work the case, showing how Hugh appreciated Grace's mind and abilities, it also added unique details to an often written about time period. 
 
While Hugh provided the calm and commanding demeanor, Grace gave us the action and compelling components. She at first claims amnesia because she fears that her father fighting for Napoleon and her Jacobite ancestors might land her in trouble but can't keep lying as she grows closer with Hugh. Grace was a wonderful heroine who didn't need to be dramatically overwritten to show her brilliance in strength living the everyday life she was placed in. She traveled with her French cavalry father, fighting sicknesses, helping wounded, and marching in the muck like many of the women in her time did; she's utterly capable but also so human in her vulnerability. The story's drama comes from Grace running from men who killed her father and her thinking they're after a huge diamond she didn't know until later she was transporting. There are English and French spies and some machinations. 
 
The story started off right away at a bit of run and it did jolt me a bit as I had to attempt to place the characters and what exactly was going on but it does level off fairly quickly. The middle slowed a bit as I thought more of a focus on the romance between Grace and Hugh could have sparked vivacity but I also greatly enjoyed the feel of history in this historical romance. There's a mention of the Spa Fields riots, the workings of the law I mentioned, and a focus on the Scottish Clearances. If you read a fair amount of Scottish historicals from the 1800s, you've probably run across this historical event, what made this feel different was instead of just reciting what the Clearances were or did, the authors' focused on the actual people and effects, it felt more intimate. The historical components in this story felt true and woven in a way that immensely added to the feel and created a richer story tapestry. 
 
I thought the middle could have used more romance between our couple but I also believed in them when they made love, the writing sometimes veered toward flowery/purple, the plot was weaving and intriguing, and the historical components highly enriched the story. Hugh's sister Jo was a touching character in her own right and with the set-up (adopted, broken engagement) the authors' have alluded to, I can't wait to read her book. Romancing the Scot was just an all around interesting read and a strong beginning to the Pennington Family series. 
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text 2017-11-15 19:11
Reading update
Everland - Rebecca Hunt

Sorry for being absent the last couple of days. I´ve been super busy since friday and now I´m sick and I´m stuck at work because of a night shift and overall I´m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment.

 

Anyhow, I decided to give you an update on my reading. I finished two books over the last week:

 

Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett  The Mysterious Affair at Styles - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser  

 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles has been a reread for me and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time I read it. And I can´t help it, I love Hastings.

 

I´m still trying to fall in love with Terry Pratchett´s books. Equal Rites has been a solid three star book for me. I loved Granny Weatherwax (her scenes with the wizard Cutangle were so much fun), but Esk annoyed me.

 

I´m not sure for which task I have read the Pratchett, but it will fit several I think. I´m not sure if I can make the Christie work for one of the tasks, though. I have to look at that tomorrow.

 

As for the books I´m currently reading:

 

Master and Commander (Aubrey/Maturin #1) - Patrick O'Brian  Wolf Winter - Cecilia Ekbäck  Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster - Jon Krakauer  

 

All three books that fit at least one task.

 

And yes, I´m still reading Master and Commander. I managed to read to page 112. Definitely not an easy read when you don´t have a lot of time to sit down with it.

 

 

 

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