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review 2020-06-06 14:44
The Spy
The Spy - Paulo Coelho

by Paulo Coelho

 

This was an amazingly fast read, although it was over 200 pages. It tells the story of Mata Hari, starting with her execution and then flashing back to begin her life story and how she became who she was.

 

The writing, as anything by this author, flows poetically and draws the reader into its depths, involving the reader so completely in the story that it would be easy to imagine oneself as Mata Hari, sharing her experiences.

 

It is divided into three parts with no chapters to break it up further, but I had no trouble reading part two, about 50% of the book, in one sitting. This part took me through some quick personal history up to the beginning of the war and how a dancer got caught up in the war machine. Though an intelligent woman, one bad choice changed everything for her.

 

History gives us spoilers, but reading about the events that led up to the conclusion we started with was fascinating. I do need to read more by this author.

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review 2020-06-06 14:22
The Search for Rasha
The Search for Rasha - Paul B. Skousen

by Paul B. Skousen

 

Bassam Saga book 3.

 

Rasha, daughter of the great Abdali-ud-din leader, is kidnapped during the night by bandits seeking ransom. Her fiancé, Bassam, is as determined to get her back as her father. A caravan guide, Shamar, works out that the girl his clients have with them is a kidnap victim and makes a plan to rescue her.

 

This is a well written story with desert adventure and poetic prose when Bassam speaks of his love for Rasha and resolve to bring her home, though we don't see what he's actually doing about it for a while. Rasha is intelligent and resourceful. She's a strong personality and a likeable character, as is her rescuer.

 

Some of the missives from other people break up the narrative and slow it down. Personally, I would have preferred to keep the story on Rasha and Shamar or move between them and what was being done to find her.

 

The book stands alone well and I didn't feel the lack of background from not having read the previous books in the series. I rather liked the end, though it was sort of predictable. The notes after the story were also interesting as there was historical precedent for much of the story, which I had thought was just a Fantasy.

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text 2020-06-05 20:09
Reading progress update: I've read 380 out of 380 pages.
L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

(French text and images below.)

 

Well, that's a wrap.  Somewhat against my own expectations, I finished this book in just under a week.  As I suspected, we don't actually learn that much more in the final 150 pages, even though the action continued to move at a sprightly pace.  There were a few more things I could have done without

(including but not limited to the "dark and stormy night" goings-on which the author, it turns out, had only been saving for the book's final chase(s), as well as a veritable "coup de théâtre" during the final conclave which might easily have backfired in real life),

(spoiler show)

and the author's choice to present the solution in a Golden Age mystery-style "final conclave" didn't really work for me, not least because -- but for the revelations that actually only follow the "final conclave" -- much of what Nicolas says there had at the very least been on the cards since the book's halfway mark or (in part) longer.  But to the last, the book's biggest draw for me was the historical detail -- Parot clearly knows what he's writing about, and he is very good at building it into the story's setting and atmosphere.  (Unlike in other, similar cases, I didn't even mind the footnotes; by and large, they actually worked better for me than a lengthy "historical note" at the end of the book would have done.)  As I said to Tannat in a comment on yesterday's status update, the book feels like Parot is taking the reader on a tour of 18th century Paris (and 18th century Paris society), while at the same time telling a detective story.  Overall, that made for a very enjoyable experience.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Eh bien, voilà tout fini!  Plus ou moins contre mes propres expectations, j'ai fini ce livre dans un peu moins d'une semaine.  Comme j'avais supposé, on n'apprend plus grand'chose dans les 150 pages finales, bien que l'action continue d'avancer à un pas assez gaillard.  Il y avait encore quelques élements de plus auquels j'aurais bien voulu renoncer

(tels que les évenements "nuit sinistre et orageuse" qu'il émerge que l'auteur avait seulement conservé aux chasses finales, autant qu'un véritable coup de théâtre durant le "conclave final" qui aurait bien pu finir manière retour du bâton dans la vie réelle),

(spoiler show)

et le choix de l'auteur de présenter la grande solution façon "conclave final" d'un roman policier de l'Âge Dorée ne m'a pas exactement enchanté, non des moindres parce que -- à part des révélations qui, en fait, suivent au "conclave final" -- beaucoup des faits y  mentionnés par Nicolas avaient été au moins possibles depuis la moitié du livre (ou même plus longtemps).  Mais jusqu'au moment dernier l'attraction la plus grande du livre, pour moi, était le détail historique -- c'est clair que Parot sait de quoi il parle, et il réussit bien à l'intégrer dans la mise en scène et l'atmosphère du récit.  (Au contraire d'autres cas pareils, même les notes individuelles de l'auteur ne m'ont pas dérangé; tout-en-un, je les ai préféré à une longue note historique à la fin du livre.)  Comme j'ai dit à Tannat dans un commentaire à mon status update de hier, ce livre me parait comme si Parot avait invité le lecteur à un tour du Paris du 18e siècle (et de la société parisienne du 18e siècle), tout en nous racontant une histoire policière.  En somme, cela a fait une expérience bien plaisante.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Final images:

 

Etienne Jeaurat: Le carnaval des rues de Paris (oil on cloth, 1757, Paris, Musée Carnavalet)

 

The Carnaval de Paris lasted, in the 17th and 18th centuries, from the day after Epiphany (Twelfth Night) until Ash Wednesday / the beginning of Lent.

 

Ebony and ivory Janseist crucifix: Christ is shown hanging with His hands above His head, so as to make His body form an arrow (rather than the "T" form of the traditional crucifix with His arms outstretched at a right angle to His body).  The arrow pointing down to the congregation in the Janseist cruxifix signified that Christ died only for the elect; whereas the traditional crucifix featuring outstretched arms indicates that Christ died for the whole world.

 

 

 

 

François Boucher: The Crocodile Hunt and The Leopard Hunt (both 1736), Charles Parrosel: The Hunt of the Wild Boar (1738), and Charles André van Loo: The Bear Hunt (1739), some of Louis XV's "chasses exotiques", then at Versailles -- all now at the Musée de Picardie in Amiens. (Right-click on an image to see a larger version.)

 

An 18th century map of the faubourg Saint-Marcel (or Saint-Marceau) -- in the 17th and 18th centuries, an extremely poor and downtrodden working class area -- and its location on a map of the modern city (it was outside the city walls in the 18th century).  Rousseau wrote in his Confessions:

"En entrant [à Paris] par le faubourg Saint-Marceau je ne vis que de petites rues sales et puantes, de vilaines maisons noires, l’air de malpropreté, de la pauvreté, des mendiants, des charretiers, des ravaudeuses, des crieuses de tisane et de vieux chapeaux. Tout cela me frappa d’abord à un tel point que tout ce que j’ai vu depuis à Paris de magnificence réelle n’a pu détruire cette première impression, et qu’il m’en est resté toujours un secret dégoût pour l’habitation de cette capitale."

 

Guérande (Nicolas's home town) and its location on a satelite map.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Previous status updates:

41 pages

94 pages

112 pages

221 pages

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text 2020-06-05 13:34
Available Now!

Today is the day! Luminous is available now on Kindle or in paperback.

mybook.to/luminous

Source: mybook.to/luminous
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text 2020-06-05 05:00
Valley of Shadows Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Valley of Shadows

Author: Candace West

Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Forgiving is far from forgetting.

Lorena Steen gave up on love years ago. After arriving at Valley Creek to visit her daughters, she stumbles first thing into Earl, the husband who abandoned her.

As for Earl, facing Lorena while fighting his own demons tempts him to flee town. How can he rebuild a relationship with his daughters and cynical neighbors when guilt shadows every step?

While the storm brews between them, another storm descends on Valley Creek. Will a ghost town stand in its wake?

But then the townsfolk devise a plan. All they need is a former concert pianist and violinist. A wife and husband estranged.

Can Lorena and Earl set aside their feelings to rescue a community? Even though it sweeps them back through valleys best forgotten? Especially when a forbidden love claims his right to win Lorena’s heart?



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta to a young minister and his wife. She grew up in small-town Arkansas and is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. When she was twelve years old, she wrote her first story, “Following Prairie River.” In 2018, she published her debut novel Lane Steen. By weaving hope-filled, page-turning stories, Candace shares the Gospel and encourages her readers. She currently lives in her beloved Arkansas with her husband and their son along with two dogs and three cats.
 

 

 

 

 

 

More from Candace

 

Why I Wrote Valley of Shadows

Can a villain become a hero? When I ended my debut novel Lane Steen, I knew someday I had to discover if a kidnapper and alcoholic was worth saving. Could that same person save a town after tragedy strikes while wrestling with his own demons?

Earl Steen had a dark valley to cross.

With a destroyed reputation, Earl must prove in Valley of Shadows that God has not wasted His efforts on him. Also, Lorena, his estranged wife, has her own score to settle. How can she when the villain no longer exists?

Nothing tugs at my heart more than lost, unrequited love. My second book focuses on their lost relationship. Earl and Lorena had haunted one another long enough. Could God mend what Earl had shattered?

Sitting down to write, I returned to Valley Creek and uncovered places within Earl’s heart that I never knew existed. Lorena’s struggles became mine as she grappled with understanding and forgiving. The dark places of their past somehow had to merge with the light of a hopeful future.

Getting Earl and Lorena to rediscover their love was a journey fraught with tension, grief, frustration, and hope. Was it worth every rewrite, every long hour staring at my computer screen waiting for my characters’ next move?

You bet!
 
 

Author Interview

 

 

Is there a particular literary period that you’re drawn to (Regency, Victorian, Romantic, Modernism, etc.)? Why?

Of all genres, I’m drawn to historical the most. Regency and Victorian. While I enjoy reading contemporary romances, I love traveling back in time to places around the world, particularly early American and British places. The events of those times, the customs, the clothes, and the way of life are just a few reasons I’m drawn to them. When it comes to writing, though, I set my stories near the turn of the 20th century. Though it’s still historical, a touch of the modern world emerges.

 

 

Describe your book in five words.

 

My book in five words: A villain becomes a hero.

 

 

Which one of your characters speaks most to your heart? Why?

Earl Steen speaks most to my heart, and I certainly didn’t plan it to happen. In book one of my Valley Creek Redemption series, I hated him as much as everyone else in the book. By the end, however, I had discovered something deeper within him. Valley of Shadows is Earl’s second chance.

 

 

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

 

I prefer traditional books. Holding a book between my hands is the best therapy at the end of a long, exhausting day. My house, however, isn’t big enough to hold all the books I would love to have. For the sake of space, I also have a Kindle. (Yes, I have more books on there that I can read in a year!) Now, I have keeper shelves. Books that have won my heart and soul belong there. The rest are in my Kindle.

 

 

If you could live inside a book, which one would it be?

That’s almost impossible to answer! There are so many books I would love to live in. Can I choose one for every day of the week? Just kidding. I’ll pick a series instead. If it were possible, I’d live in the Anne of Green Gables books. Prince Edward Island is on my “someday” list.

 

Blog Stops

 

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 4

For the Love of Literature, June 5 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, June 6

Texas Book-aholic, June 7

Older & Smarter?, June 8

Betti Mace, June 9

Artistic Nobody, June 10 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, June 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 11

Through the Fire Blogs, June 12

For Him and My Family, June 13

Blossoms and Blessings, June 14 (Author Interview)

Pause for Tales, June 15

By The Book, June 16 (Author Interview)

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Candace is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, one signed paperback copy of Lane Steen and Valley of Shadows!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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