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review 2017-04-29 04:18
Davida: Model and Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens - Karen Ingalls

          I was drawn to this book, expecting the best of fictional scandals given the title.  The story begins with a young Albertina Hultgren traversing the seas from Sweden to America with her mother, aunt, and uncle.  Immediately the themes of “family is a blessing” and “love trumps all” are apparent.  Albertina mourns the recent loss of her father, a death that catapulted her and her family into the foreign environment of New Jersey.  Albertina’s first few years as a Swedish immigrant are composed of nostalgia for her homeland and the magical tales that were told to her by her father.  However, the introduction to the famous married sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens serves as the catalyst for a completely new and exciting, yet untraditional life as the model Davida Johnson Clark. 

            Although the book is not written as an epistolary, the story reads as an intimate look into the heart and mind of Karen Ingalls’ protagonist.  As I read I could sense her developing maturity, yet the innocence that characterized her from the beginning was never lost.  What made this story enjoyable was the fact that I felt a connection to Davida Johnson Clark.  She was a woman led by love, not just for Augustus Saint-Gaudens, but also by the love for her family.  Her patience was immeasurable, her soul sincere, and her dedication to the passionate Augustus remarkable.

            As a novel categorized as historical fiction, I did feel like there could have been more context to supply the story with authenticity.  There were plenty of facts about the art exhibitions and Augustus Gaudens’ artistic process; however, there was no real cultural details that illustrated how alarming a relationship of this nature was at the time.  I would like to have been given the tools with which to build a more vivid picture of Ingalls’ world in my head, because I truly loved the characters that lived in it.

            I loved her characters so much that I cried as I empathized with their tragedies.  Moreover, I had come to rely on the company of the innkeeper Maria and the New York neighbor Helen much like Davida herself.  The kinship between the women in the book comforted me, and the course of events these women went through left me teary-eyed. While I wish that the book ended happily, the reality of the lives of Davida Johnson Clark and Augustus Saint-Gaudens was bittersweet and riddled with complications.  What began as an affair of the body inevitably ended as an affair of the heart.

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review 2017-04-29 02:55
Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Use of Weapons - Iain M. Banks

Series: Culture #3

 

Well that was disappointing. I was tempted to give it 3 stars overall while reading (before I got to the end) since although the present-day chapters were fairly interesting, the past chapters were duller and sometimes maudlin. Then I got to the “twist” at the end and was disappointed by it. I had caught the references to it earlier and was hoping I was wrong but… nope. If it weren’t Banks, I’d probably drop my rating lower, but I guess I’ll keep it at two stars.

 

The present-day chapters follow Cheradine Zakalwe as he’s recruited by Diziet Sma (I like her first name) to convince this old political to come out of retirement to put off a war. Zakalwe’s skill is winning wars, basically, so the “past” chapters show various scenes from his past, some of them boring and some of them brutal. These interleaved chapters make up the book. There’s also a drone called Skaffen-Amtiskaw who starts off as a bit of a jerk but becomes more interesting as the book goes along. Sma doesn’t have much of a personality, unfortunately, despite her cool name.

 

I read this for the Water Works square in booklikes-opoly since there’s water on the cover. It turns out that it’s a grounded battleship in front of a city on the cover and it seems like it was grounded in drydock in a shipyard so there would be water around it somewhere, so I think the stuff that looks like water is water. Hopefully that clears up some confusing elements of the cover (while opening a whole new can of worms as far as confusing context goes). Anyway, the book is 411 pages, so that’s another $5 for my bank, bringing my total to $48.

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review 2017-04-28 22:40
In The Ring
In the Ring: A Dario Caivano Novel - Perri Forrest

Title: In The Ring
Author: Perri Forrest
Publisher: Chic Lioness Publishing, LLC.
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"In The Ring" by Perri Forrest

My Thoughts.

Good Read!

This author gives the reader something to think about...what happens when a secret finally comes out but was it really a secret that one important person already knew about it? I kept wondering what was it about these sisters that seemed to keep them apart [Chanel & Rochelle]? Let's not leave out the two main characters... Chanel & Dario who were two interesting people were truly drawn together in so many ways. Well, all I can say is that is this was one amazing read with twist and turns that that one will only have to pick up and read to see how well this author presents it to the readers. I enjoyed how the story flowed so well together and in the end all I can say is that the readers will gets one simply a good read.

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text 2017-04-28 22:08
Reading progress update: I've read 277 out of 411 pages.
Use of Weapons - Iain M. Banks

Learn woodwork; metalwork; they will not make you a carpenter or a blacksmith any more than mastering writing will make you a clerk.

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review 2017-04-28 20:40
Review: The Piper's Price
The Piper's Price (The Neverland Wars Book 2) - Audrey Greathouse

eArc review copy provided by author.

 

An enjoyable follow up to the Neverland Wars. Picking up shortly after where the first book left off, Gwen is now back in Neverland with Peter Pan and her beloved sister Rosemary, ready to aid Peter in his quest to find the Pied Piper.

 

There was a lot more action in this second instalment, much more of an actual plot, than focusing on Gwen torn between wanting to hang on to her childhood or be a grown up. While there was certainly a huge issue with Gwen still struggling with this problem, there was nowhere near so much philosophical waxing and waning over it.

 

Peter needs the Piper’s help to formulate a plan that will stop the adults in Reality attacking Neverland. Gwen is sent back into Reality to team up with a now grown up friend of Peter who can help solve the clues to find the means of attracting the Piper’s attention.

 

Tiger Lily makes an appearance in this one, as a grown adult woman, with friends of other adult women who have left Neverland and grown up, but still remember Peter and the allure of Neverland itself. It’s interesting to see how they cope with Gwen’s appearance and her strange requests. Though it pulls Gwen back into reality and a life she’s not sure if she wants to give up or not. The women hold a “book club” and there’s one rather poignant scene where they’re discussing a romance novel, “Tryst on the Thames” and later Gwen finds a copy wants to know what it’s about, she’s old enough to understand, but the lady who comes to her aid, Dawn, says rather bluntly if she’s still flying about with Peter Pan she’s not old enough to be discussing romance novels.

 

Kind of a bitter sweet but apt point to illuminate Gwen’s awkward positon. Gwen finds herself going on a shopping trip and getting a new hairdo and these normal teenage things help give her flying the happy boost. Things that would give a normal girl a happy, not something someone deep in magic and Neverland should be that fussed about. Just more of the awkwardness of a teenager dealing with Neverland.

 

And being back in reality brings Gwen back in touch with her potential love interest from the first book, Jay. I actually really like Jay as a character, he listens to Gwen, he likes her, he doesn’t think she’s nuts when she explains her predicament to him. He’s a nice, decent guy and I can see why Gwen confides in him. I like the way their friendship develops and hints that there could be something more between them, but Gwen of course is torn with her duty to Neverland.

 

Gwen has some interesting friendship developments in this one, bringing her to see the sides of adults who have been to Neverland and grown up, and then the more magical side of friendships with the Lost Children and the fairies and Lasiandra the mermaid.  The Piper himself is quite a dark and creepy character, and something of a jackass. (Though I also quite liked the Piper and the role he played later on in the novel). We also get to see some of the nastier side of the adults in reality and what they’re doing with the magic and beings stolen from Neverland.

 

Lots more action and some great character development on Gwen, though Peter Pan himself…I found him annoying really. An interesting ending, and I’m definitely looking forward to the final part in this trilogy.

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