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review 2018-08-08 22:16
As the Qing Dynasty draws to a close...
Threads of Silk - Amanda Roberts

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio version of this book - when faced with unpronounceable names in a foreign language, the audio is often the best solution and Leanne Yau had a convincing Chinese accent.



The main character is Yaqian, just a child when she is removed from her rural home province and sent to an embroidery school. As a young girl she had enjoyed working in the fields, where she had loved caring for the silk worms, but when the time came for her feet to be bound, she had to stay indoors and learned embroidery instead. She worked on her first pair of dainty shoes, intending to wear them herself, but they were so beautiful that they were taken from her and sold. 


Her skills became recognised and she gained a place at a prestigious embroidery school, where the sales of her work were to pay for her education. The daily rigours of the school are covered in quite extensive detail, including music and traditional dance.

Yaqian is always striving to improve and when she develops a technique that allows both sides of the embroidery to be perfect, she starts to excel beyond the skills of her master.

A piece of her work is sent as a gift to the Emperor's favourite concubine and suddenly she finds herself whisked away to the capital and to a new life in the Forbidden City.


Through Yaqian we partake in events from the late 1800s into the early twentieth century, as she becomes Imperial Concubine Yi's personal embroiderer. As Concubine Yi rises to become Empress Cixi, Yaqian stays loyal and eventually becomes a personal friend. The Qing Dynasty is drawing to a close and events become tense and worrying, yet Yaqian keeps her head and proves herself well beyond her skills as an embroiderer. 

How cool is it that we can now visit this Forbidden City, where so much of China's history once played out?


The author has lived in China for the past eight years and speaks the language. She researched extensively for this novel and I found myself becoming very involved in the history of Chinese embroidery. There was also the inevitably uncomfortable section on the ancient practice of foot binding, so be warned.



An interesting novel to listen to, slow moving but never static. This would appeal to lovers of historical fiction and historical romance.

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review 2018-08-07 20:44
Great Read
Angels & Whiskey (Saddles & Racks Book 1) - Kimberly Knight,Jennifer Roberts-Hall

Angels & Whiskey is an entertaining contemporary romance by Kimberly Knight.  Ms. Knight has delivered a well-written book.  I love the characters in this book.  This book is written in first person, alternating point of view, not my favorite, but it was well-done.  Gabe leaves the military and becomes an escort.  Autumn has decided she needs to escape from her abusive husband.  Autumn and Gabe's story is loaded with drama, humor, sizzle and suspense.  I enjoyed reading Angels & Whiskey and look forward to reading more from Kimberly Knight in the future.  Angels & Whiskey is book 1 of the Saddles & Racks Series but can be read as a standalone.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

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review 2018-08-01 22:30
The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival - Terry Roberts


The American South in the 1920's was an interesting region. With religious folk preaching against the sins of drinking alcohol, and prohibition making it a prominent job option for those looking to make some money, here comes Jedidiah Robbins on his gospel train. With his team selling bibles, (and bottles out the back), he is a man full of contradiction. He is what made this book so compulsively readable.


Jed and his group tour mostly in Appalachia and find themselves in trouble there from time to time. With local lawman trying to keep law and order, with the KKK, (unhappy with the colorful nature of Jed's team), and the additional appearance of H.L. Mencken trying to unveil a scam, it seems there is never a dull moment.


I myself am not a religious type and I usually do not appreciate novels that attempt to preach at me, however stealthily that attempt may be. I do think some of that was going on here. It was my fascination with Jed Robbins that kept me going. I admit there were a few other characters that interested me as well-oddly enough-one of them was God himself.


I think if Jed were a through and through man of the cloth this book would have been boring. But Jed was a man of the world, and even if it wasn't he himself that was distributing that bootleg liquor, it was his team doing so, and it was with his full knowledge. They did some other things that many would deem ungodly as well. Yet somehow Jed walked the walk of a true believer and he was sometimes so sweet and kind, he brought a tear to my eye.


A quick note about the writing-Terry Roberts has a deft hand with language and that's another reason this book was so difficult to put down. I have several highlighted passages that I thought were just beautiful, but I can't quote them here until the book is released. (August 21, 2018, people! Mark your calendars!) A few times I just had to marvel over sentences that flowed like a mountain stream through my mind and emptied into the river of my heart. I may not be a religious person, but I am a spiritual person and the language here touched my spirit.


THE HOLY GHOST SPEAKEASY AND REVIVAL is worthy of your time. Even if you're not religious, even if historical fiction isn't your true thing, (I'm not and it isn't, but the title sucked me in), this is a wonderfully written book that will lead you down through the paths of Appalachia into an America that is long gone, but fondly remembered here.


Highly recommended!


*Thanks to Edelweiss and Turner Publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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text 2018-07-27 14:30
#Friday Reads July 27, 2018
The Holy Ghost Speakeasy and Revival - Terry Roberts
Mourning Jewelry - Stephanie M. Wytovich
Lucifer, Book Three - Ryan Kelly,Ted Naifeh,Dean Ormston,Peter Gross,David Hahn,Craig Hamilton,Mike Carey
The Freak Show Murders - Fredric Brown
The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch,Michael Page


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text 2018-07-09 03:45
Reading progress update: I've read 26 out of 165 pages.
Man in Lower Ten - Mary Roberts Rinehart

murder on a train, so of course I’m hooked. this one is short, and I should finish it tomorrow when next I sit down with it. the back cover informs that this was Rinehart’s first novel...and the “first detective novel to crack national bestseller lists”. pretty neat!

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