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review 2017-09-29 14:45
Interesting mystery, but...
Two for Sorrow - Nicola Upson

I was left feeling somewhat unsatisfied.  

 

Josephine Tey is investigating the notorious Finchley Baby Farmers episode, interviewing people she knew and trying to get an insight into this terrible crime in order to write a fiction book.  Suddenly one of the seamstresses at Motley dies horribly and there has to be an investigation, the past and present collide and relationships are messy.

 

Several of the people involved need to talk better to each other.

 

It's interesting but somehow I felt like the relationships overshadowed the mystery, I have no issues with the relationships but I felt that the sometimes intruded on the murder mystery in ways that made it more complicated than it really needed to be.

 

It could be argued that the baby-farmers were monsters and some of what is done is monstrous but it doesn't really fit into any of my free slots (it does fill Darkest London, Amateur sleuth, Terrifying women and murder most foul but I've used those) so Raven it is.

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review 2017-08-30 17:52
Interesting book but perhaps needed a different approach.
Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present - Jacqueline Jones

With Labor Day coming up in the US this seemed like a good time to finally pick this up after seeing this on a list a year or two ago. The book looks at the role of black women in the US work force from slavery to the more recent day (this was first published in 1986 and that's the version I read). From the fields to domestic to work to entering the workforce to wartime to the more "modern" era this looks at black women and how their roles changed, how they worked, etc.

 

It's a huge, ambitious work and I think a review on Goodreads nails it well in that maybe this was too much for one volume. The initial chapters that focused in the colonial times through the Civil War were really interesting (especially when given the lack of source material due to time, the inability to read/write, etc.). But the post-Civil War chapters just sort of dragged and dragged. Sometimes it just felt the author was putting down fact after fact like a very dry textbook. It's an interesting topic but I'm not sure if the author's approach worked for me.

 

In some ways I found it was much easier to understand via other works. I was reminded of Isabel Wilkerson's 'The Warmth of Other Suns' which addresses the history of black people leaving the South to move North or West or even 'The Help' which has black domestic workers as a major part of the story. To be fair 'The Help' is a book of fiction that has many issues but I was reminded of that story when reading this. 

 

If this is a topic that interests you then by all means it's worth borrowing from the library or buying as a bargain book. But if it's something you don't know much about (which may be part of my problem) OR you have an interest in a particular time period Jones writes about then you may want to look at the book first before deciding to dive in. Would not be surprised to see this pop up in a class about black people, the history of labor and other related subjects.

 

It might be better to go for books that focus on more specific aspects/topics. I wholeheartedly recommend 'Warmth' although that book is not about black women specifically. Otherwise this wasn't a bad read (and maybe I should have gone for the updated version instead) but I didn't quite get what I had hoped out of this text. 

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review 2017-04-30 23:45
Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King
Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome - Crystal King

Synopsis:

Set amongst the scandal, wealth, and upstairs-downstairs politics of a Roman family, Crystal King’s seminal debut features the man who inspired the world’s oldest cookbook and the ambition that led to his destruction.

On a blistering day in the twenty-sixth year of Augustus Caesar’s reign, a young chef, Thrasius, is acquired for the exorbitant price of twenty thousand denarii. His purchaser is the infamous gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, wealthy beyond measure, obsessed with a taste for fine meals from exotic places, and a singular ambition: to serve as culinary advisor to Caesar, an honor that will cement his legacy as Rome's leading epicure.

Apicius rightfully believes that Thrasius is the key to his culinary success, and with Thrasius’s help he soon becomes known for his lavish parties and fantastic meals. Thrasius finds a family in Apicius’s household, his daughter Apicata, his wife Aelia, and her handmaiden, Passia whom Thrasius quickly falls in love with. But as Apicius draws closer to his ultimate goal, his reckless disregard for any who might get in his way takes a dangerous turn that threatens his young family and places his entire household at the mercy of the most powerful forces in Rome.

 

Wow! This book was quite impressive for a debut author! At first I thought most of the book would center mostly on the cooking and foods from the era, and as I don't like to cook, I thought it would get boring. Boy, was I wrong.

 

This book mainly centers on the life of Marcus Gavius Apicius whose recipes were written down, but according to the author's notes, no cookbook survived, but some of his recipes did survive in the writings of other historical figures. Apicius was a very wealthy Roman citizen whose passion for cooking and good food sees him spend a great deal of money to buy a slave named Thrasius to be his cook. His dream is to be the gastronomic advisor to Caesar himself.

 

He throws huge, very extravagant parties hoping to get noticed. But the thing he doesn't realize is that to draw ever closer to Caesar's circle is to also potentially put yourself and family at greater risk. Set at the time of Caesar Augustus and going to the reign of Tiberius and his evil praetorian prefect, Sejanus, Apicius does not seem to realize the dangers that he risks in his quest for greatness.

 

I loved this book and all of the characters, even the vile ones, because it made this period in history really come alive for me. It has all the court intrigues, manipulations and dangers, but also the very human stories of a man who just wanted to be famous and the consequences in the life of his family and slaves. It also did have recipes from that time, and I could do with not eating a lot of it. Flamingo tongues?, cow udders?...no thanks.

 

Kudos to Crystal King for an amazing read and for a debut book! I read this one in less than a day. Keeping her on my list for future reads.

 

5 stars and a favorite.

Highly recommended!

 

 

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review 2017-04-26 02:44
HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW
House of Ivy & Sorrow - Natalie Whipple

HOUSE OF IVY AND SORROW

Natalie Whipple

Paperback, 360 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by HarperTeen
ISBN: 0062120182 (ISBN13: 9780062120182)
also on Kindle and AudioCD

 

Natalie Whipple is an author that I would definitely read again. House of Ivy and Sorrow's characters are well developed, even the minor characters. I was in a slump when I starting reading this YA novel; but once I sat down with the book, I couldn't put it down. Friendship and family are integral to the plot; coming of age, trusting, which friends are more like family, and family secrets keep the plotline moving at a good pace.

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review 2017-04-02 21:40
Feast of Sorrow, by Crystal King
Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome - Crystal King

In Feast of Sorrow, Crystal King takes the few known historical details about the life of patrician Marcus Gavius Apicius and the cookbook named after him to create a captivating look into high Roman society in the first century CE. Through the eyes of Thrasius, Apicius’ enslaved cook, we see decades of political wrangling and lots and lots of cooking. Feast of Sorrow is deliciously rich in period detail—though I think I’ll hold off on making some of the provided recipes as I’m not all that fond of dormouse...

 

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from Edeweiss for review consideration.

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