Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ABC Historical Fiction Challenge, Mistress of the Revolution

I am slowly working my way through this challenge, but I have to admit, I'm not doing so well on the deadlines. When the letter is posted, you have a fortnight to read and post the review. Well, I am trying, but so far I have only read letters, E, F and G. My review for Etta will be late posting, and so will the letter G. For the letter G, I read The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C. W. Gortner. I'll post this after the print review is published, so sorry for that delay.

However, I do have a posting for the letter F. The book is Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors. The location is of course France which will fulfill the requirement for this letter.

Catherine Delors, Dutton, March 2008, $25.95,HC,464pp, 978-0-525-95054-7.

Mistress of the Revolution is the story of Gabrielle de Montserrat, a survivor of the French Revolution. Gabrielle, although of noble birth, is raised in a convent as her own mother turned her away. At the age of fifteen she is taken home to live with her brother and mother and although her mother loathes her, it soon becomes clear that her brother is enamored by her. During this time she loves to ride and during an outing meets Pierre-Andre Coffinhal a local commoner. They fall in love and plan to marry but when her brother the Marquis discovers the mismatch he is furious. As her guardian, without recourse, she is forced to marry a much older, cousin who beats her and treats her as nothing more than a common whore. He dies suddenly leaving her and her young daughter with no means of support. Desolate and alone, she accepts a generous offer to live in Paris with the Dutchess d’Arpajon who becomes her mentor, protector and confidant. She becomes a kind friend, but fearing her own death and what would certainly cause financial hardship for Gabrielle, the Dutchess encourages her to seek male companionship. Her future is bleak for a woman without means in Paris, but her beauty attracts many men with numerous proposals, although without a dowry, marriage is not an option.

Delors recounts compelling horror with terrifying details of this unsettled revolutionary period of time in France. The political turmoil of the day is the backdrop of Gabrielle’s story and it is through her eyes we witness this bloodbath known as The Reign of Terror.
The real historical figures in Gabrielle’s story are many including Marie-Antoinette, Louis the Sixteenth, Pierre-Andre Coffinhal, Robespierre, Lafayette and countless others. Gabrielle did not live, but her character is full of spirit and has a tenacious will to survive. Gabrielle’s existence is fragile at best and Delors uncovers the drama and tenuous journey women had to tread during the late 18th to early 19th century through her pathetic and unhappy story. This is a heartbreaking, tear brimming story with well researched details of the French Revolution which shouldn’t be missed.

Disclosure: I purchased Mistress of the Revolution for my own enjoyment.

Adopt a Greyhound Month

Some of you may know that I rescued four sweet and gentle retired greyhounds after they finished their racing careers. Fortunately, many states have now passed laws against greyhound racing, however with tracks closing, there is an even greater need for homes for these gentle souls. Yes, I can attest to the fact that they do not need a lot of exercise and prefer to spend most of their time on a comfy couch. Contrary to popular belief, they do not need a big area to run. They are just as happy in a condo, apartment or house. They were raised in small dog kennels, so life on the outside is a dream come true.

April is Adopt a Greyhound Month and this video is one that TV stations are showing in some areas. I hope you enjoy it, and think about adopting one of these retired hounds. You won't be sorry, and you may find out that one is just not enough. LOL If you'd like to donate to a greyhound organization, their are organizations throughout the world. The group I have done fostering for in the past is Greyhound Rescue and Rehabilitation located in NY and I have a link on my sidebar.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read. Open to a random page.
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Page 169... "I understand you had your fun with me while you could. I understand that you aren't who I thought you were, and now you want me to tell you it's all right."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mailbox Monday, March 29, 2010

As most of you know Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Thank you once again Marcia for hosting this weekly event. :)
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

If it seems like I had an abundant week, it is because I didn't post my mailbox for two weeks so I'm playing catch-up. Teaching and work in the media center has really kept me busy. It is that time of year when rest doesn't come easy. I can't wait to see what everyone else found in their mailbox this week. Enjoy your reads!!

Silent in the Grave, by Deanna Raybourn...Won in Contest!! Yippee
Young Bess, by Margaret Irwin...Purchase
this one is Mine, by Maria Semple
War on the Margins, by Libby Cone...Won from Anna & Serena War Through the Generations....Thanks!!!!
The Passage, by Justin Cronin...ARC

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place,
by Maryrose Wood...Purchase
Read, Remember, Recommend by Rachel Rogers Knight...ARC...
Virgin and the Crab, by Robert Parry....From Readers Respite...Thank you!!!
The Lost Summer of Lousia May Alcott Kelly O'Connoer McNees...ARC
Claude and Camille, by Stephen Cowell...ARC
Can God be Trusted? by Thomas D. Williams...ARC

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa...ARC
Forest Gate,by Peter Akinti...ARC
Ensouling Language, by Stephen Harrod Buhner....ARC
The Swimming Pool, by Holly LeCraw...ARC
The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, by David Grann...ARC
The Language of Secrets, by Dianne Dixon...ARC

Review-The Lotus Eaters, by Tatjana Soli

I read this book for the Early Reviewer program on Library Thing. I had requested it as a possible choice thinking I would like to read it for the War Through the Generations Challenge. I was so happy when I had been given this as my ER book. This is my first book in this challenge and a great one to start off with. I loved it!! I felt like I was there, but safe in my own house. I can't even imagine how Helen must have felt covering the Vietnam War. I shudder to even place myself in her shoes. Here is my review.

Tatjana Soli, St. Martin’s Press, April 2010, $24.99/C$29.99,HC,400 pp,978-0-312-61157-6.

Helen Adams decides to journey to Vietnam to determine what really happened to her brother. She arrives in Saigon in 1965 as a photojournalist, inexperienced and eager to prove, with a distorted view of what Vietnam will actually reveal. It is a man’s world and Helen’s arrival is met with mixed reactions among the male dominated press. She soon meets and falls in love with Sam Darrow, a Pulitzer winning veteran photographer. His assistant Linh, a Vietnamese helps them both to navigate the divided world that exists in Southeast Asia during the war. They live in Saigon and when Darrow fears for Helen’s safety, he arranges for Linh to go work with Helen. All three accompany dangerous and deadly missions chasing the ultimate photos that will emerge as they are seen through the camera’s lens of this war’s fury. What they see is not always printable, but their mental survival is contingent on having the camera as a prop to shield them from the reality of the moment. Helen decides to return home to California, but soon realizes her mistake, only to fly back to the place where she felt most alive, Vietnam.

The story begins in 1975 during the fall of South Vietnam. Helen and Linh are trying to leave the country. Linh, wounded and delirious from medication is unaware when Helen makes the choice to stay behind and arranges safe transport for Linh. The author then takes the reader back about ten years as Helen, Linh and Darrow are introduced and the story of their interconnected lives begins.

Soli uses a variety of voices to tell this story. The point of view is sometimes difficult to switch back and forth, but with perseverance the reader will adjust to her writing style. You get a real sense of what it was like to be Helen, a female among the guys. Her strength and courage make this story possible as she settles in to live among the people. Through Linh, you will witness the harsh realities and price that was extracted by the Vietnamese villagers. You sense the soldier’s frustrations as they fought an illusive ghostlike enemy, the climactic conditions, wretched, foul and the oppressive heat. You gain a perspective that is unimaginable, the brutal fear and hopelessness brought by the scourge of the Vietnam War. This is a sensitive, harrowing and moving account of the war with a soul, where bodies are counted for more than a statistical tally. This is a war story with heart not to be overlooked.

DISCLOSURE: I received this book from the publisher through the Early Reviewers program on Library Thing.

Sunday Salon, March 28, 2010

Happy Sunday to all!! I hope you have been enjoying some of the teasing temperatures that keep popping up hear and there. Last weekend was so beautiful and warm with highs in the 7o's. What a contrast today as I have the woodstove heating me up instead of the Spring sunshine. I guess that's what happens in March though. You just never know what to expect. More rain is in the forecast and flood warnings are threatening again as the soggy soil will try to absorb another pounding of wet weather. I'm so glad that my passion for books makes rainy days the perfect weather to stay indoors and travel in my mind, without getting wet.

How is the Spring treating your world?

Today I am reading, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O'Connor McNees and so far I am really enjoying this historical fiction story about LMA. I do see myself in her character and the reactions of her family are too real and a bit uncanny. I see where the book is heading, and am anxious to see how the story continues.

This week, I finished reading The Lotus Eaters, for the War Through the Generations Challenge. I will post the review shortly.

Mystery Update

Mystery is still having problems. I thought that we had the pain managed for her, but last week she had trouble again. We tried another tactic, but yesterday she was really not great. I have to see the vet on Monday where she will give me another drug to try, but she has to be off her current medication for a few days before the new medicine can be given. Poor baby, I have to hold her a lot and she has rough moments, then she seems better. I feel so bad for her and hope that she will get some relief soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Salon, March 14, 2010

Mystery is doing much better and so am I. I still worry about her, but she is not crying anymore so I know the pain has subsided and medication is helping. Thank dog.

I've been busy reading several books for reviews I have due up. I finished Pieces of Sky, by Kaki Warner, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C.W. Gortner and The Ninth, by Harvey Sachs. These reviews will be posted on my blog once they are published.

For a quick run down, I liked all three of these books and they were are a diverse bunch. Pieces of Sky is a light, romantic, historical fiction novel that takes place out West. This is part one of the Blood Rose trilogy.

Catherine de Medici, by C.W. Gortner, I absolutely fell in love with. Fabulous! Fabulous! Fabulous!
Based on her life, wrapped around the history of the religious conflict during France in the 16th century this novel captivated my attention from cover to cover. I would naturally fall in love with Queen Catherine because of her indomitable and powerful personality. Gortner outdoes himself with his storytelling genius. Don't miss this captivating story!

The Ninth, Beethoven and the World in 1824, by Harvey Sach reminded me how much I love Beethoven. I have a Bachelor of Music degree and when I studied Music History in college and sat threw my music theory and style classes, Beethoven was and still is one of my favorite composers. Harvey Sachs has written a reflective history along with his opinion of the world that surrounded Beethoven during the year when The Ninth Symphony premiered in Vienna. The artistry of Byron, Pushkin, Delacroix, Heine and Stendahl lived during that time and these contemporary creative companions shared the World Stage during what became known as the Romantic Period. Sachs compares their work and their philosophies the world as Beethoven knew at the moment The Ninth was heard for the first time. This is a meaningful and meritorious read.

I started reading The Lotus Eater, by Tatjana Soli today. The story begins in Saigon during the final pull-out after the fall of Vietnam beginning April 28, 1975. It's too early to give you an opinion as I haven't read too much yet. Stay tuned. :)

Happy Birthday, to my cousin Russ!!!

I recently found out that Lisianthus is his favorite flower. I can see why isn't it beautiful? Have a fun day celebrating Russ. Thanks for all your help and the great things you do for me. You are the best! See you soon. :)

I hope everyone has a great week. The wind and rain have been tempestuous at best in New England and my back deck has taken a hit. Fortunately, the only real damage is a broken market umbrella and some broken clay pots that I use for herbs. The yard and street are littered with the broken limbs and leaves of nature's upset last night. More rain is on the way today and tomorrow. On the bright side, we now have another hour of light as Spring nears. As if overnight, the ground can't resist anymore, softening to allow the tender tips of the green flowers to come. I see my timid garden emerging beneath the leaves and autumn mulch. Yippee!!!

How was your week? How was the weather? What are you reading of interest, I would love to know. Hope all is well with everyone. Peace!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Mystery and I haven't been feeling too terrific and Owen has been taking advantage of the situation. Hope to be around soon to visit all my blogger friends. Miss you all. Wisteria

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday on March 1st 2010

Happy March 1st to everyone will it come like a LION???

As most of you know Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Thank you once again Marcia for hosting this weekly event. :)
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

This week in my mailbox my new books are quite diverse. Have a look!

This Book is Overdue, How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us Allby, Marilyn Johnson

A Rumor of War, by Philip Caputo

The Bag Lady Papers: The Priceless Experience of Losing It All, by Alexandra Penney

Alcestis, by Katharine Beutner

All Acts of Love and Pleasure Are Her Ritualsby Rachel Adair

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Googleby Nicholas Carr