Friday, February 12, 2016

Julie's Review: In Another Life

Author: Julie Christine Johnson
Series: None
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 368
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Captivating
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Summary: Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region's quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life--and about her husband's death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think. Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of the Languedoc region, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.  

Review: In Another Life is an amazing book. It is flawless in how the story comes together. It has history, romance and mystery woven into the story line. Lia is lost since the unexpected death of her husband 18 months earlier. She finds herself fading away into nothing by staying in Seattle. She decides to return to the countryside of France to see if she can make a life on her own. She is a true historian in the way that she lives and breathes her subject matter, which is the Cather religion.

Lia is an interesting character. She comes back to Languedoc because it is where she feels the most at home. It is where her part of her family's roots are and it where her research has taken her. It is also the last place where her and Gabriel were happy.  As Lia experiences her sudden flashes or transport, as a reader you are just as jarred as she is and don't quite know what to make of it either. It is her journey into the past that helps her figure out the present and maybe lead her to her future.

Journeying into the past while living in the present isn't an easy thing to accomplish but Ms. Johnson does it extremely well. She blends these two together seamlessly that you find yourself wanting to move between the two worlds as well as Lia. How she meshes the past and the present caught me off guard a few times but it the best way. I wasn't entirely sure how it was going to come together and when I thought I picked up on the clues, she's switch it up.

The setting is absolutely stunning and Ms. Johnson does a fantastic job of describing the landscape of both the past and the present. It definitely made this reader want to journey to this region in France for a trip. Plus it seems like they have fantastic wineries in the area and one can't miss out on that.

My only hang up is that I wasn't completely sold on the "head over heels" love between Raoul and Lia. I am all for Lia moving on and letting go of Gabriel but I just thought it was out of character for her to fall for Raoul so quickly.

I'm not doing this novel enough justice because I really don't want to give anything away in the plot. Plus it's really one of those novels that you will want to experience for yourself.

If you loved either Outlander or Time Traveler's Wife, then you will want to get your hands on In Another Life.

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Julie's Review: No Ordinary Life

Author: Suzanne Redfearn
Series: None
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 455
Obtained: Publicist
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Behind the scenes look at behind the camera of Hollywood and the perils of it
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Summary: Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood. Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and their three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. In a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family. Emotionally riveting and insightful, NO ORDINARY LIFE is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives.

Review: No Ordinary Life is a peek behind the curtain into how Hollywood works behind the scenes. Even more so about the perils on child actors. Not only for themselves but for their families. It doesn't always end horribly but it doesn't always end well either. Faye is pretty much at the end of her rope. Her no good husband left for a job and hasn't returned in 5 months. She's got 3 kids to support and is finding it difficult. She leaves the only life her kids have known and moves to LA to live with her mom in a condo. It isn't long before her youngest daughter is discovered because of a YouTube video. At first it all seems spectacular and the answer to a lot of their problems but what Faye finds out is "more money, more problems". The long hours on set, even with the breaks, makes it hard on the other 2 kids, especially the oldest, Emily. Molly is adorable and precocious. She's not sure what to think when she lands the part on a hit tv show, The Foster Band, but she does what is asked for the most part. She's 4, some days are better than others. At first Faye is a bit wide-eyed when it comes to the glamours of being on a tv set but when she realizes that things aren't always what they seem, she begins to doubt her decision to have Molly in the business. Since Faye's never done this, she doesn't know how to assert her authority.

Frankly, Faye is a bit of a pushover. She's let her husband, Sean push her around for years and is letting the Producer/Director of the show doe the same since he's making googly eyes at her. He's a pretty good catch but she hasn't quite learned that someone always wants something from you in this business. I can understand why it would be hard to separate real-life from the fiction they create on a show but Faye has to buck up pretty quick in order to protect Molly. Molly is adorable and while she might be the catalyst for the novel, I wouldn't say she's the focus.

The story is mainly Faye's but it really does effect everyone in the family. Especially when her loose cannon husband decides to show back up. Her mom, whom I loved and saw as the voice of reason most of the time, warned her that he was only back for one thing. Fortunately, Faye learns this very quickly and tries to protect the kids as much as possible. Sean being back in the picture allows Emily, who at 12 is already wise to game playing, pit her parents against each other. Emily can't see that her dad really doesn't have her best interest at heart because she idolizes him and she's pissed off at her mom. If she was honest with herself with the self-realization a 12 year old doesn't have, she'd realize it's because she's not the center of the world anymore, Molly is at the moment.

Ms. Redfearn does a great job of showing what it's like to work on a successful TV show and the demands not only on the actor or actress in the show but the entire family. The stress of being famous isn't easy either, especially in this day and age of paparazzi. She makes Faye sympathetic and aggravating at the same time because let's be honest, you can see a little of yourself in her.

If you've ever been interested in Hollywood and enjoy a good family drama, then you will want to pick up No Ordinary Life.


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Monday, February 1, 2016

Julie's Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue

Author: Melanie Benjamin
Series: None
Publication Date: January 26,2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 368
Obtained: friend
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Illuminating look at New York society from the 1960s
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary:  The New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator’s Wife returns with a triumphant new novel about New York’s “Swans” of the 1950s—and the scandalous, headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and peerless socialite Babe Paley. Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley. Her flawless face regularly graces the pages of Vogue, and she is celebrated and adored for her ineffable style and exquisite taste, especially among her friends—the alluring socialite Swans Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness, and Pamela Churchill. By all appearances, Babe has it all: money, beauty, glamour, jewels, influential friends, a prestigious husband, and gorgeous homes. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman—a woman desperately longing for true love and connection. Enter Truman Capote. This diminutive golden-haired genius with a larger-than-life personality explodes onto the scene, setting Babe and her circle of Swans aflutter. Through Babe, Truman gains an unlikely entrée into the enviable lives of Manhattan’s elite, along with unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Sure of the loyalty of the man she calls “True Heart,” Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake. But once a storyteller, always a storyteller—even when the stories aren’t his to tell. Truman’s fame is at its peak when such notable celebrities as Frank and Mia Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, and Rose Kennedy converge on his glittering Black and White Ball. But all too soon, he’ll ignite a literary scandal whose repercussions echo through the years. The Swans of Fifth Avenue will seduce and startle readers as it opens the door onto one of America’s most sumptuous eras.

Review: The Swans of Fifth Avenue is a story about the infamous rich of the New York society scene in the 60's and 70's. It is a peek into the world that few of us know and understand. Frankly, for this reader, hope to never understand. There was no depth to these women and they were so desperate for any real connection they never once thought that Truman would use them.

Truman himself is pretty despicable, even if his writing is genius. He's dark inside and it's only a matter of time before it seeps out to his exterior. His is so focused on fame and appearances that he loses sight of what might matter most in the end. He wants fame at any cost and in the end it cost him everything.

Babe Paley and the rest of the "Swans" are beautiful and skilled at being just that, beautiful. They are searching for something outside of the protective bubble, they don't see the wolf in sheep's clothing coming after them.  Babe, the most revered of the "swans" is perhaps the loneliest. Her marriage is strictly for the newspapers. She has no connection to her children, because they were all apart of the show as well. Her husband, is a cad. He can't keep it in his pants and really doesn't care how it affects his wife. Babe buries her self in the proverbial sand. Even if one of his affairs is with someone you would consider her closest friend.

While I loved how Melanie Benjamin told the story, the story itself didn't woo me. Maybe it was the fact that it was rich people problems or the fact that these women just didn't seem real to me. Their problems were worrying about what to wear to the next gala and where to lunch to be seen.  It is obvious that this is a passion project for her and the amount of research that went into the background of her story.

I have a friend who will be getting this book because she loves this time period in New York society. I can't wait to get her opinion on it.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Julie's Review: Platinum Doll

Author: Anne Girard
Series: None
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Mira
Pages: 368
Obtained: publicist
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.75/5
Bottom Line: Interesting story about what it took Jean Harlow to become famous
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Summary: Set against the dazzling backdrop of Golden Age Hollywood, novelist Anne Girard tells the enchanting story of Jean Harlow, one of the most iconic stars in the history of film. It's the Roaring Twenties and seventeen-year-old Harlean Carpenter McGrew has run off to Beverly Hills. She's chasing a dream—to escape her small, Midwestern life and see her name in lights. In California, Harlean has everything a girl could want—a rich husband, glamorous parties, socialite friends—except an outlet for her talent. But everything changes when a dare pushes her to embrace her true ambition—to be an actress on the silver screen. With her timeless beauty and striking shade of platinum-blond hair, Harlean becomes Jean Harlow. And as she's thrust into the limelight, Jean learns that this new world of opportunity comes with its own set of burdens. Torn between her family and her passion to perform, Jean is forced to confront the difficult truth—that fame comes at a price, if only she's willing to pay it.  

Review: Platinum Doll is the story of how Harlean Carpenter McGrew became the Plantinum Blonde, Jean Harlow. I have to be honest, I didn't know much about Ms. Harlow before reading this novel. I didn't even realize that she died so young. I wanted to read this one because I've been in the mood for anything Old Hollywood lately. It just seemed to be such a different place back then. Especially as the industry was moving from silent movies to "talkies".

Harlean was a young girl when she first experienced the awe of Hollywood. Her mother, Jean, had high hopes of becoming an actress. It is as a young, married girl when she returns to Los Angeles.  Her husband, Chuck, surprises her by getting them a house in an up and coming neighborhood, Beverly Hills. The neighborhood is filled with young couples with money who have nothing better to do than lunches and golf at the club. For the time period, they sure were free flowing with the drink during prohibition.

It was obvious to me that Chuck and Harlean loved each other but they were young. It was also obvious that Chuck was a little obsessed with her and wanted to control her. Harlean wasn't a young lady that wanted to be harnessed to being a homemaker. She was already going stir crazy after only a couple of weeks there.

What I loved about Harlean was her good natured personality. She was exactly what she seemed to everyone. She also knew what she wanted once she got a taste of it; an actress. She starts off as an extra but soon decides she wants more. This is where her marriage goes to hell. Chuck can't stand not being the center of Harlean's world. It's not just her career that is taking it's toll on their marriage, Chuck also likes to drink a lot.

The most interesting relationship in the book was the one between Harlean and her mom. Her mom was a trip. I found her mom, Jean Harlow, to be extremely overbearing. She didn't have fame so she wants to cash in on her daughter's. Harlean can't seem to break free of overbearing relationships. I really wanted to see her put her mom in her place but she just couldn't do it.

While she had a short life, it seems that it was one of adventure, a bit of love and a bit of heartbreak. She had an outstanding career and one that continues to intrigue people years after her death.


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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Julie's Review: The Ramblers

Author: Aidan Donnelly Rowley
Series: None
Publication Date: February 9, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pages: 400
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: One of the most beautifully written books I've ever read
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Summary: For fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Meg Wolitzer, Claire Messud, and Emma Straub, a gorgeous and absorbing novel of a trio of confused souls struggling to find themselves and the way forward in their lives, set against the spectacular backdrop of contemporary New York City. Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled. Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams. Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.  

Review: The Ramblers is one of those rare book that is beautiful from start to finish. The characters could easily be someone we all know or perhaps we see some of ourselves in them. They are flawed and gorgeous.

Typically, there is one character that I am drawn to or love a little more than another in these kinds of novels but not in this one. I enjoyed each of their stories immensely. Smith, is the beautiful one, but she is the one suffering from a terrible break-up and it doesn't help that her younger sister, Sally, is getting married. Salt on a very open wound for Smith. Smith seems all tough and put together but there is an open vulnerability to her that even makes her more attractive. It would be easy to hate Smith based on appearances because she seems to have it all. You also immediately love her because of the way Clio talks about her.

Clio is amazing and resilient. She is whip smart but shy and unsure of herself.  She has found the love of her life in Henry, but isn't sure how to tell him about her past. She is used to running away, it's always worked for her in the past, but this time, she has to run towards her past to confront it.  Clio's story is one of healing and forgiveness. It is about grabbing your past, facing it and not letting it define you.

I wasn't sure how Tate was going to fit into the story but he did and not just a potential love interest. He has his own story of heartache and learning to trust himself. He is trying to break free from what people expect of him to following his passion. He is ballsy and adventurous. He is what Smith needs to help heal her heart and to help her break-free from her family. Smith is what he needs to give himself the confidence to pursue  his passion.

Ms. Rowley is a gifted storyteller. Her love of New York City is evident in each chapter and page. It makes me want to visit the city just to go to Central Park to find The Ramble. I'm not even a bird watcher but I would be to listen to someone like Clio. She has a way of writing her characters so that you appreciate their flaws instead of having them aggravate you. I loved how she wrote Smith and Clio's friendship. I felt that even though it could have been one-sided, it wasn't. There was a deep appreciation and love for each other.

I can't recommend The Ramblers to you readers enough. Even though it is early in the year, I know this one will be on my Best of 2016 list.


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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Julie's Review: I'll See You in Paris

Author: Michelle Gable
Series: None
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 352
Obtained: Amazon Vine
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Thought I had it all figured out and then BAM!
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Summary:  I'll See You in Paris winds together the lives of three women born generations apart, but who face similar struggles of love and heartbreak. After losing her fiance in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they'll go to Paris, where the city's magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love. Thirty years later, Laurel's daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie's father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie's told herself it doesn't matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won't Laurel tell her the truth? The key to unlocking Laurel's secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie's quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.

Review: I'll See You in Paris is part mystery and part family drama. It all starts when Annie finds a book in her mom's study that her mom pretends to have no clue about the book she's talking about to Annie. Of course this piques Annie's curiosity, so she sneaks it into her bag for their mysterious trip to England.

I loved how Annie went into full on nosy kid mode when they reached Banbury. She didn't quite believe her mother's story and the book about the Duchess of Marlborough has wet her appetite for an adventure.  Luckily she's in the right place at the right time and meets an older gentleman that can fill her in on the backstory of the biography she's currently reading.

The story flashes back to 1972 when a young woman named Pru had no other options than to take a job in England for a woman she knew nothing about and upon her arrival being greeted by that woman who brandished a gun. Shortly after Pru arrives, Win enters the picture to try to write a biography on the Duchess who he believes is Gladys. It's not too hard to see that there are sparks between Pru and Win, even if they squabble all the time.

Gladys is a hoot. She's definitely eccentric and maybe even being a little off kilter but she's most definitely had an interesting life. It is evident that she wants to talk about her escapades but without revealing that she's the Duchess. As the book goes on, it's hard not to believe she's the Duchess. Win is good at asking questions that make her talk and reveal things that only the Duchess would know.

I enjoyed the time we spent with Pru, Gladys and Win but I also wanted the modern day resolution to what Annie finds out about her mom and her mom's past. Her mom's past is in some ways the only way that Annie can move on to her future. They really are linked together, more so that most parent/child history.

If you like the Historical/Contemporary Fiction flip-flop story telling, then you won't want to miss out on I'll See You in Paris.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Julie's Review: The Sea of Tranquility

Author: Katja Millay
Series: No
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 13 Hours 10 Minutes
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne,Candace Thaxton
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  YA
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Interesting novel on how pain can cause us to re-define ourselves
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Summary: I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the Earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk. Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her - her identity, her spirit, her will to live - pay. Josh Bennett's story is no secret: Every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at 17 years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space. Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won't go away until she's insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she's been hiding - or if he even wants to.  

Review: Sea of Tranquility is a breath of fresh air when it comes to YA for me. In the age of dystopian novels, reading a YA book about normal issues and struggles that teens encounter or could encounter. Ms. Millay starts off with the characters being sterotypes of teenagers. You have the male flirt, the brooder and the mysterious girl. Thank goodness, each of these turns out to be so much more than the stereotype.

I did wonder a few times if I would have liked this books just as much if I read it rather than listening. Frankly, the narrators were fantastic. Kirby was great as Josh and Candace nailed Nastya. There is much angst as one would expect in a YA novel but I didn't find that it grated on my nerves. Both Josh and Nastya have been hurt and disappointed in their short lives but in very different ways. It isn't that either one is trying to rescue the other one and it isn't that they necessarily need rescuing but they need each other.

What happened to Nastya is alluded to in the beginning of the book but it all slowly starts to come together until the big reveal. Josh has his own story and it doesn't take as long to reveal but it's still devastating.

Ms. Millay has a gifted way of telling a story and the way she lets everything slowly build up is brilliant. There wasn't a time when you weren't wondering what happened to make Nastya so angry. What happened to make Josh so guarded.

I am looking forward to whatever Ms. Millay writes next, in whatever genre she chooses.

Jenn's Review


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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Julie's Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard

Author: Susan Meissner
Series: None
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: NAL
Pages: 400
Obtained: Amazon Vine
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: Fish out of water story set in old era Hollywood
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary: Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie… Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

Review: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard is a well-written novel that alternates between the past and the present with much more time spent in the past. It is what connects the past and the present that ties us to Old Hollywood and to one of the most famous movies ever, Gone With the Wind. I wish there was a bit of a stronger tie to the movie but in the end it's about the relationships created because that movie was made, not the movie itself.

Audrey is vivacious and outgoing. Violet is quiet, reserved and wants nothing more than a normal life but for now that has escaped her. She came to California wanting something different and she found that in her friendship with Audrey. It's not far fetched to see why they are friends, each has a different effect on the other.

While each tackles their dreams separately what they want most in life will intersect in ways that neither of them could have forseen. It is what will keep them bonded together and what will almost tear them apart.

My one wish for this book was that it was a little less dull. That isn't to say that the writing isn't deft and exsquisite, it is but I wanted more of a tie to Hollywood. To the actors and actresses in Gone with the Wind. That's where the book was lacking for me.

I am interested in some of Ms. Meissner's other books because people have raved about her writing, so I will check those out.


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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Julie's Review: Medici's Daughter

Author: Sophie Perinot
Series: None
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Slow to get started but worth it in the end
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot's intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family. Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, a Huguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul. Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.  

Review: Medici's Daughter is a tale of intrigue, betrayal, loyalty, lust and love with a good amount of history within it as well. It always hard for me to remember that the young women in these novels are as young as 13 when they are married away for political or religious gain. Margot is different because she's a bit older when she's married off to bring peace between the Catholics and Protestants. It is a long road for her before we get to that point in Margot's life.

This is very much a coming of age story even if it is within the confines of a treacherous court. It is also a book about war and political/religious alliances. Family doesn't mean what it means to you and me, it's about what you can gain from those familial ties. I wouldn't want to be Queen Catherine's daughter or sons for that matter. Both of her brothers use Margot for their own various reasons but her brother Henri gave me the chills from very early on in the book. Something just wasn't right with him. It's not like King Charles was much better. He suffered from "episodes" which mad his moods tricky to  and meant his mother did much of the managing of the country. So in some ways, King Charles was just a figure head.

What is wonderful about Margot is that she follows her heart and her conscious. She is young but learns quickly and has good friends she can rely on. Early on in the novel she has a lot to learn about the way politics works and strives for her mother's approval and love. As she grows older she realizes she's a pawn but that she can control it to a certain extent.

I love that she remains loyal when her heart is tearing out of her chest. I was disappointed that the one person she loved with her whole heart ended up being a complete arse. I should have seen it coming but I kind of thought I might get a happy ending. I should have done a little research before reading instead of after.

I think that's what I like about Historical Fiction, is it makes me Google an event or a person that I didn't really know much about previously.

If you are looking for a solid, historical fiction set in France, then Medici's Daughter is for you.


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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Julie's 2015 Year in Review

 photo Top Books 2015_zpseiss3mrm.jpgIt's everyone's favorite time of the year! You know where everyone comes out with their favorite books of 2015 and I'm no different.

My Goodreads Challenge Goal:
75 Books
Books Read: 86!! (Through 12/30/2015)

2015 was yet another year where I had more than a handful of 5/5 books! So, here is the break down by category for my favorites (top 5 (or more) in each if applicable, not in a specific order).

Contemporary Fiction:
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Status of of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill
The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks
Come Away with Me by Karma Brown

Historical Fiction:
The Magician's Lie by Greer McAllister
A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
The Edge of the Lost by Kristina McMorris

Historical Fiction & Contemporary Fiction:
The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy
Sisters of Heart and Snow by Margaret Dilloway

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
The Mask by Taylor Stevens
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Women's Fiction:
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford
Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Young Adult:
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz

Other Categories:
Armada by Ernest Cline (Sci-Fi)
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (Humor, Sociology)

 I am hoping that 2016 is as wonderful of a reading year as 2015! Happy Reading!


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