Monday, November 22, 2010

Review-Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Written by Jennifer Donnelly
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780385737630
Our Price: $18.99

Synopsis from Book Cover and Random House

"BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Parisfor winter break.
PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart."

My Review

All Andi Alpers wants to do is forget. Forget that the tragic death of her brother ever happened. She believes it is her fault, that her parents blame her and that the reality is her brother is dead. She will never see him again, and the events leading up to his death haunt her each day. To cope with her loss, she functions, just barely at times due to her heavy reliance on anti-depressants.The depression zaps her energy, her drive, her will to live. Her father travels much of the time and her mother, an artist, fills her days painting, lost in her own world of pain. When her father shows up, he believes his solutions are the best for both Andi and her mother.

Andi, stuck in Paris with her non-communicative father is faced with an ultimatum. He agrees to her proposition to produce an outline for her final thesis, work she has so far neglected. If he accepts the project, he will agree to allow her to fly back to Brooklyn. She stumbles upon the diary of Alexandrine, a young girl who lived during the French Revolution. The events and lives of those in the ill-fated journal present a compelling mystery. Andi’s compulsion to finish her project is desperate and frenetic. Eventually, with a crash of kismet, her life collides with the past.

The beginning of the story was slow, rather banal and my interaction was passive. However, as soon as you emerge in Paris, the mysterious plight of Alexandrine, uncovered in the pages of her diary makes this book suddenly glow with a brilliant radiance. Andi begins to see life through death and a harmonious blend of the two characters creates a duet of tympanic rhythm that reveals a powerful message.

Donnelly presents an imaginative novel with a deeply penetrating view of the historical events that took place during the French Revolution. It’s important to note that the inconsolable numbness to life and the feeling of self-loathing and deep depression portrayed in the character of Andi Alpers is sadly heartbreaking. The timeless message of self-love and forgiveness makes this a highly recommended novel.

Disclosure: This was an ARC sent to me by Random House.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran, Book Release-February 2011.

One of my favorite author's Michelle Moran has a new book soon to be released in February 2011. Can it really be only three months till February?

Madame Tussaud takes place during the French Revolution. I just finished reading Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly (review forthcoming), also from that time period. The French Revolution has always fascinated me. I think my passion for this historical setting began when I read A Tale of Two Cities, by Dickens. I vividly recall scenes from this novel that I read in high school, and the impressions have remained with me all my life.

I was so thrilled to read that Michelle Moran has written a book about Madame Tussaud. I love the cover don't you? I have read Michelle Moran's other books, always exciting and educational. I am surprised she has journeyed away from Ancient Rome, but I am delighted. I can't wait to read Madame Tussaud.

Synopsis from Michelle's Blog

"The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire…but who was this woman and how did she become one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous story comes to life as only Michelle Moran could tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin…
Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American Ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, and when word arrives that the royals themselves are coming to see their likenesses, Marie never dreams that the king’s sister will request her presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. Yet when a letter with a gold seal is delivered to her home, Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.
As Marie becomes acquainted with her pupil, Princess Élisabeth, she is taken to meet both Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen, to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into to a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.
Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution…Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more importantly, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?
Spanning five years from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom."

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Salon-November 14, 2010

Is it really November already? Honestly, between getting ready for the winter season: yard clean-up, raking and leaf blowing the endless accumulation of the annual tree foliage piling up daily, stacking wood, cleaning the gardens and just all that fun New England stuff...I am worn out. Well, not exactly, but it has kept me busy.
Yes, I have been neglecting my blogging, yet not my reading. I have lots to write about, and with the winter bearing down, I know I will have a lot more time.

So, how many of you like the end of daylight savings time?
I really dread this time of year because of the shortened daylight, but love it just the same. The rainbow of autumn brilliance and the crisp bite into a fresh picked apple makes me smile. The recent cold frosty mornings are a refreshing transition from the stifling heat this summer delivered. I am honestly delighted that I can breathe again. I guess that is why I love the Northeast so much.

Okay, so some of really fun stuff, like snow, sleet and shoveling are soon to damper the picture, but you know there are those snow days too! If you look at that glass as half full, there is always something to smile about. I guess that's why teaching makes me forever a kid at heart. I watch for those snow forecasts as much as my students. The nightly rituals I learn from my students, wearing pajamas inside out, putting a spoon under your pillow and all those other hopes and dreams for a cancellation make me chuckle. Even though shoveling takes a good chunk of the day, a warm fire in the woodstove keeps it cozy and warm as I open up my current book and get lost in another place.

How about you? Are you ready for winter? Do you like the end to daylight savings time? What are you looking forward to. Any special books you want to share?

Happy Sunday, I hope it's a great one. What are your plans? I'll be reading The Personal History of Rachel Dupree, by Ann Weisgarber and/or Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly. I'm almost done with both and am really enjoying both.

PS...I stacked my wood (2 cord) all by myself. I think I lost 5 pounds. Yippee!!!

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Winner for The Lost Dogs!!!

Congratulations to Alice Teh for winning the book The Lost Dogs!!!

Alice, I will contact your email address to get your address.

Thanks to the publisher for providing the copy for this giveaway!!

I know you will really enjoy this book and reading about all the dogs who were saved. :)

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Winners-Raising the Dead

Wow! Am I late with posting winners. I have been so busy this year with school....I am so sorry!!!

The winners for Raising the Dead are:

Majorie & Debbie

I have your email addresses and will send you a note to have you forward me your snail mail address.

Thanks for participating and congratulations!!!
Thanks to Hachette Group for offering the books for this contest. :)

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review-Wicked Company, by CiJi Ware


Ciji Ware
Sourcebooks Landmark
624 pages
October 2010

Synopsis from Sourcebooks, Back Cover

"If Shakespeare had a sister…
In 18th century London the glamorous Drury Lane and Covent Garden theatres were all the rage, beckoning every young actor, actress, playwright, and performer with the lure of the stage lights. But competition and back-biting between theatre owners, patrons, actors, and writers left aspiring playwrights with their work stolen, profits withheld, and reputations on the line. For a female, things were harder still, as the chances of a “petticoat playwright” getting past the government censor was slim.
In this exciting and cutthroat world, a young woman with a skill for writing and an ambition to see her work performed could rise to glory, or could lose all in the blink of an eye…
In Ciji Ware’s signature style, real-life characters of the day create a backdrop for a portrait of a glittering era, a love story, and a compelling glimpse into what life was like for a strong and independent-minded woman in an emphatically man’s world."

Review by Wisteria

I was introduced to Ciji Ware’s masterful storytelling in Island of the Swans and couldn’t wait to read her other works. Cottage of the Sea was an equally engrossing story that reaffirmed my dream of one day living by the ocean. Wicked Company has made me a Ciji Ware devotee, this author not only rights beautiful stories, her text is a lyrical experience throughout. As the melodic plot unfolds she adds unique and charming characters who offer the perfect counterpoint.

The setting is 18th century London centering on the Covent Garden District. Ware points out in her Author’s Notes, that women dramatists were more common than most have come to believe between 1660 and 1800. In her opinion they have been omitted in studies of British literature and her purpose in writing is to shine light on these remarkable women of the British and American theater.

Sophie Hamilton McGann works for her father, Daniel McGann, a printer. She is a bold, intelligent, opinionated and often rash female heroine of fiction. However, many of the plays performed in the novel were based on actual historical events. Surrounding Sophie is at the center of Wicked Company, joined by a cast of historical and fictitious players. Regarded as key figures of the theater world at the time were, David Garrick, Richard Sheridan, George Coleman and several others. What surprised me in this book was the practice during this time of the employment of a government censor. Edward Capelli, lived at this time and he was the Deputy Examiner of Plays. He certainly gave Sophie a difficult time, slashing her dialogue and often refusing his approval entirely. From the beginning Ware establishes Sopie’s independent spirit and often impulsive temper. She often dons man's attire to gain admittance and acceptance. When she meets Hunter, a street juggler she is smitten, but it will be years before he realizes he too has a mad obsession for Sophie. Until then, they are good friends and the paths they follow are not always in sync. Their passion is precious but kismet interferes with a smooth journey for the two. Ware taunts the reader with an anxious love story that seems hopelessly doomed.

I admire Sophie for her tenacious will and resolve as she insinuates herself into the theater world dominated by men. Sometimes I want to shake her silly for her impulsivity, but overall she is an 18th century spitfire who just wants her value as a writer acknowledged and live her life with the man she loves without personal sacrifice.

To understand Sophie, perhaps this piece of dialogue will form an image in your mind. Throughout the centuries this or similar refrains, whether a whisper or a shout resonate around the world by women. Sophie could have been my twin.

“I’ve had days lately when I’m tired and discouraged, but why must a woman always put a man’s wishes and desires first? Why must she invariably honor his dreams and ambitions above all else? Do you really think that’s the only path to happiness for men and women?” (232)

Wicked Company confirms that Ciji Ware is an exquisite writer of historical fiction and without a doubt one of my favorite authors.

Disclosure: Wicked Company was sent to me by the publisher.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review-The Wolves of Andover, by Kathleen Kent

By Kathleen Kent
320 pages
Reagan Arthur Books
Published November 2010

Synopsis from the publisher:

"A story of love and intrigue from America's earliest days, by the author of the national bestseller The Heretic's Daughter.

In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and for his mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether in the form of the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves—in many guises—who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Wolves of Andover confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of historical drama.

My Review

If you read Heretic’s Daughter and liked it as much as I did, then The Wolves of Andover will be a gratifying encore! Taking place in Massachusetts, during the Colonial time period beginning in 1649, the setting is a personal favorite of mine. As the author states in her author’s notes at the beginning of the novel, the characters are based on actual people. In 1692, Martha Allen Cartier was accused and hanged as a witch in Salem. She was married to Thomas Cartier and had children with him. Kent weaves a dramatic story of intrigue around these two characters based on her research and family lore.

Thomas, in the novel, is pursued by a party of ruthless men, desperate to capture him. Their cold indifference to life and harsh methods of acquiring information are brutal. The action provided by the relentless stalkers is chilling at times reflecting the barbaric and crude methods of punishment and slow painful death and suffering of the condemned typical during this period. Kent holds nothing back in this boldly graphic and haunting tale.

Martha, comes to live with Patience and husband, Daniel. To date, her woeful nature has discouraged any suitable marital possibilities. She has come to assist her cousin Patience with her pregnancy. Martha is determined to be more than a servant and soon insinuates herself as a strong force in the household. A blooming courtship between the obdurate and wise Martha and the mysteriously silent and serious Thomas is predictable and satisfying. Kent gently teases the reader as their friendship and trust for each other moves forward with just the right sensual tension and sweetness.

As I read The Wolves of Andover, I became curious about the political and religious climate in England during the reign of King Charles I that led to his execution. I love when historical fiction is an impetus to pursue further study of history. Once again, Kathleen Kent has written an inspiring read that will give you much to ponder and generate inquiry into the past.

Disclosure: I received The Wolves of Andover from the publisher.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Thank a Veteran Today!

To the American Soldiers,


Monday, November 8, 2010

Blog Tour-The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

Helen Hollick
Sourcebooks Inc.
656 pages
Publication Date: November 2010

Synopsis from Sourcebooks

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

"Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom—and her crown—are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England's shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery."


Until I read The Forever Queen, given a choice, if queried to name a favorite Queen in history, hands down I would choose Queen Elizabeth or Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. The schema most readers, including this reader, most likely possess about Emma of Normandy, who reigned as queen of England with two different kings would most likely be insubstantial. When you read Helen Hollick’s portrayal of the prideful and perspicacious Emma from the 11th century, you may have a new royal to consider among your best-loved Queens.

I do love Queen Emma. I guarantee after reading this historical fiction, she will become endeared to most readers, at the very least a curious fascination. In April 1002, Emma, at thirteen is ripped from her family and native Normandy and sent to marry King Aethelred of England, an aging king. She despises him on sight, he repulses her. And so her life story begins in this magnificent historical fiction marathon that has the potential to sabotage many readers’ will power to put this book down.

Queen Emma is a glorious monarch, strong with unwavering pride and resilience. Her keen intellect and quick wit are a match for any who try to challenge her. She is respected for her competence and loyalty and loved as Queen. She endures horrible abuse by one husband and delights in the passionate love by another. Her subtle power and influence and her innate ability to understand her people and her role as Queen are a testament to her historical significance.

The Forever Queen is the first book in what is planned as a trilogy with the next book called Harold the King. A brilliant and totally fulfilling escape back to Anglo-Saxon England, The Forever Queen is a definite snuggle up with a good book read!


Disclosure: ARC copy of The Forever Queen was sent by the publisher.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trainer arrested after at least 20 greyhounds found dead at Ebro | ebro, greyhounds, least - News - The News Herald

Words can't express my emotions when I was told about this hellaciously, heinous and senseless crime of intentional animal abuse. I can't even fathom the fear and pain these hounds suffered before they died as a result of their perfidious owners. It has been reported that their mouths were duct taped, could barely breath and starved to death. My heart is breaking for these beautiful greyhounds as they run free now.

Trainer arrested after at least 20 greyhounds found dead at Ebro | ebro, greyhounds, least - News - The News Herald

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].