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review 2018-02-22 02:56
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill
The Lonely Hearts Hotel - Heather O'Neill

Set in the early part of the 20th century, between the first and second World War, this novel is part love story, part feminist novel.  It also sometimes feels like a fairy tale with parts of the story told in such a lyrical way, there should be a musical accompaniment.

 

In the winter of 1914 in Montreal, two babies are abandoned by their teenage mothers and end up in the same orphanage.  Rose and Pierrot are both gifted entertainers and from a young age, use their talents to captivate their fellow orphans.  Eventually, people outside the orphanage notice their talent and Rose and Pierrot are paraded through the parlours of the rich to generate funds for the orphanage.  Not unexpectedly, none of the funds actually benefit the orphans but rather make the nuns’ lives - a cruel and perverse group - more comfortable.

 

Separated as teenagers, Rose finds herself sent to a rich home as a tutor for unruly children.  Little do the parents know that Rose is not much better than an unruly child herself.  Pierrot also finds himself in a rich household as a companion to an eccentric and elderly man who is estranged from his family.  While neither situation teach Rose and Pierrot the skills they need to support themselves in depression-era Montreal, it becomes evident quickly that Rose is the pragmatic survivor while Pierrot remains the  whimsical artist.

 

Reconnecting again as adults, Rose and Pierrot renew their love for each other and for the talent and quirkiness that connected them as young children.  They work together to build a life and to make their childhood dream of becoming stage performers come true.  The story is heart breaking and gritty, with even the happiest of moments shadowed by the harshness life at that time.

 

The writing in this book is wonderful.  Experiences that I have never - in many cases, thankfully - had in my life are made so real through Heather O’Neill’s unique use of words. 

 

A train trip to New York is described as follows:

 

“They went through a series of old, crotchety mountains.  They were so old they didn’t look dangerous anymore.  Occasionally a big boulder rolled off them into the middle of a road or landed on top of a deer, but on the whole they had found their place in the world.  The rain had worn their peaks down, one argument at a time.”

 

This story makes a particularly moving statement on women and the struggles they face daily simply to be respected.

 

“Men were taught to have so much pride, to go out into the world and make something of themselves.  This Depression was deeply humiliating.  Since women were taught that they were worthless, they took poverty and hardship less personally.”

 

Or even more of a direct statement that as a woman,

 

“You were often only an ethical question away from being a prostitute.”

 

If I have a criticism of the story, I did find that it took a frustratingly long time for Rose and Pierrot to reconnect as adults.  I understand that building suspense is necessary however, I felt that I had to suspend disbelief in order to accept the number of times that Rose and Pierrot crossed paths but didn’t actually meet each other.  At one point, Pierrot exited by the front door of a room while Rose was entering through the back door.

 

That said, this book is simply captivating.  It was difficult to climb out of the story and go back to regular life - I so desperately wanted Rose and Pierrot to escape the orphanage, find each other again, become rich and successful and live happily ever after!  This book is a more realistic than that of course but you won’t be able to stop rooting for Rose and Pierrot.

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text 2018-02-22 02:38
Reading progress update: I've read 47 out of 340 pages.
An Unkindness of Ghosts - Rivers Solomon

hmmm. this book has dumped me onto a spaceship where life obviously differs--radically--depending on what deck a person lives on. the bad news: I'm in the lowdecks, where life is...not so great. but the good news is, if I have to be stuck where it's freezing and there's a curfew and there are a few other problems, at least I'm with Aster, who already seems like a very interesting person, as do her few acquaintances. she's smart and inventive and willing to cut off a friend's foot when necessary (damn freezing lowdecks!).

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review 2018-02-22 02:31
Beyond the Empire by K. B. Wagers - My Thoughts
Beyond the Empire - K.B. Wagers

I actually finished this book 2 days ago, but I've been unable to even think about putting my thoughts down until now.  And even now, I know I'm not going to do it justice. 

I loved the book and the loved the series!  I just clicked with the characters.  Or they clicked with me... whatever.  *LOL*  I'm pretty sure there might be people out there who think Hail, the gunrunner empress, is too perfect, but you know what?  She's like my superhero.  Yes, she's one of the best gunrunners in the galaxy and you don't get to be that without being pretty damned good at all facets leading, fighting, learning, listening, plotting... well, you get my drift.  So Hail Bristol is basically my Batman.  :)   And you know what else?  She's not an uberly-gifted teenager, she's almost 40 years old.  Life has battered her around some. Her knowledge and abilities, while some of it is ingrained, a lot of it has also been learned and tried in a cauldron of fire.  Anyway... yes, she is my hero. 

The action in this last book of the trilogy is pretty much nonstop and the surprises keep on coming as Hail, Emmory, Zin and the gang fight to regain the Indranan throne.  People die.  And sometimes they die in a most awful manner, but such is the way of war.  Even as I was cursing the author, weeping, I knew it was something that had to happen. 

There are some quite times thought.  Scenes where Hail tries to come to terms with the loyalties and expectations of her people, of her found family and even of herself.  Scenes also, where she shares intimate moments with those closest to her, and we get to see the affection and love between them.  It's like... so... I've been watching the Olympic figure skating like a good Canadian, and cheering on Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as they won their gold medal, all the while listening to all the speculation about their relationship and are they a couple or not.  So... I watch Tess and Scott and I see Hail and her Ekam, her head bodyguard, Emmory.  It's a deep connection, it's love, it's true kindred spiritness.  They're not a couple - that's Emmory and Zin, thank you very much (and how I wish we could have some stories about their adventures as Trackers.) - but they are very much together, if that makes any kind of sense. 

Okay, so, yes, I loved this trilogy so so much.  It was so much fun, so much action, so much of all kinds of things I love in my books.  There's another trilogy coming in the fall and I'm really looking forward to more adventures with Hail, Em, Zin and the gang.  But don't let that deter you, this trilogy can stand alone, honest.  :) 

Oh, I loved it.  So much that I went and joined the KB's Patreon.  

 

(And thank you Renzii!)

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text 2018-02-22 00:55
Reading progress update: I've read 255 out of 416 pages.
The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future - Peter Moore

FitzRoy creates the first storm warning system and flips his lid when Origin of Species is published. Meanwhile, balloons are starting to be used for atmospheric research.

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text 2018-02-21 21:30
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 231 pages.
The Gunslinger - Stephen King

“The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”

 

Image result for the dark tower gif

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