Book Drunkard

“I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” L.M. Montgomery


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The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, review


ABOUT THE BOOK

My real name, no one remembers. The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

MY REVIEW

This is one of those books that is hard to review.  It’s so layered with love, and suspense, and intrigue, that I’m having a hard time finding the words to describe how I felt reading it.  You often hear about the perfect beach read–well, this book is the perfect fireside read!  So, grab a warm beverage and hunker down.

Kate Morton’s books are always engaging and she is excellent at multi-period storytelling. I will admit to being confused often while reading this book, and I had to pay close attention at all times.  This is not a quick, easy read.  It is meant to be savoured and enjoyed.

The story is excellent and very complex.  The layers may leave you feeling confused as it did with me, and it does start out slow, but when it takes off, it really takes off!  And, it all comes together so beautifully at the end, that I forgot all about the misgivings I had at the beginning of the book.  There is a reason why her name is larger than the title on the cover.  She knows how to write a mysterious story with well rounded characters in different time periods and keep readers engaged and wanting more.  I am already salivating thinking of her next book.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Pan McMillan for an  e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

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The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick, review


ABOUT THE BOOK

“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.

But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…

MY REVIEW

I LOVE time travel stories!  And, while this one was confusing at times, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to those who love the genre.  And, if you’re a fan of historical fiction, specifically Tudor history, this book is a bonus.  Fans of the Tudors often speculate about what happened to Katherine Parr’s daughter and this book is a fictional telling of her story from the imagination of the author.

The gorgeous cover of this book is what first attracted me.  I’d never read a book by Nicola Cornick before, but after reading the blurb, I requested it on NetGalley.  Told in modern times by Alison and the 16th century by Mary, the story is a fantastical one.  But, the way it’s written it almost seems plausible that one could travel back and forth in time.  My only problem with that aspect of the book is that it’s never really explained how she’s able to time travel until the end.  I was too confused by that point to care.

All in all, it’s an intriguing tale with excellent writing and great characters.  I’m looking forward to her next book.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin – Graydon House Books for an e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*


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Ecstasy by Mary Sharratt, review


ABOUT THE BOOK

In the glittering hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Vienna, one woman’s life would define and defy an era

Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was this woman who brought these most eminent of men to their knees? In Ecstasy, Mary Sharratt finally gives one of the most controversial and complex women of her time the center stage.

Coming of age in the midst of a creative and cultural whirlwind, young, beautiful Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. A brand-new era of possibility for women is dawning and she is determined to make the most of it. But Alma loses her heart to the great composer Gustav Mahler, nearly twenty years her senior. He demands that she give up her music as a condition for their marriage. Torn by her love and in awe of his genius, how will she remain true to herself and her artistic passion?

Part cautionary tale, part triumph of the feminist spirit, Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

MY REVIEW

Alma Schindler led an interesting life surrounded by talented people like Gustav Klimt and Gustav Mahler, whom she married, and was extremely talented herself with regard to composing music.  Unfortunately, it was during a time when women composers weren’t taken seriously or given the chance to explore their talents.  And, it didn’t help that her husband was an egomaniac who wanted all the attention for himself.  She was forced to sit on the back burner for the most part.

Mary Sharratt is a brilliant author who has a knack for bringing places to life like few authors can.  The art and music scene in 1900’s Vienna is vivid on the pages and pulls the reader in, leaving us begging to go back in time and experience it for ourselves. I didn’t love this book as much as The Dark Lady’s Mask.  While the writing and story were enthralling at times, I couldn’t get over the repetitiveness of Alma’s moaning and her fights with Mahler about him taking her work seriously.  Mahler’s death brings the book to an abrupt end and I wish I could have heard more of her story, as she lived many years after he was gone.  The cover of the book is GORGEOUS and all in all, I’m glad I read it.

I received an e-copy of this book from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley.  All views are my own.  


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Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose, review


ABOUT THE BOOK

New York, 1924. Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

MY REVIEW

From start to finish, including the glorious cover, this book is smashing.  I have long been a fan of M.J. Rose’s books and I haven’t been disappointed yet. She’s so gifted with words, especially when describing places and things.  It’s easy to get engrossed in her work and, if this makes sense, it feels as though you’re reading a movie the way everything plays out in your mind’s eye.

If you’re a fan of anything Tiffany, you’ll love this book–even though he’s really just the backdrop for Jenny’s story.  Her life is a twisty turny mystery set (mostly) during the 20’s.  She’s an interesting character, well written with lots of depth.  In fact, the entire cast of characters played off each other beautifully and all added to the plot.  Laurelton Hall (See picture below) is a central part of the story and M.J. wrote it so wonderfully it’s as if it lived and breathed just like Louis Comfort Tiffany.

 

It’s so satisfying to know I can always pick up a book by M.J. Rose and know it’s going to be great.  I’ve been fortunate to find a few authors who never disappoint.  I look forward to her next book.

I received an e-copy of this book from Atria Books via Netgalley.  All views are my own.


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The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron, review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

A thirteenth century castle, Chateau de Doux Reves, has been forgotten for generations, left to ruin in a storybook forest nestled deep in France’s picturesque Loire Valley. It survived a sacking in the French Revolution, was brought back to life and fashioned into a storybook chateau in the Gilded Age, and was eventually felled and deserted after a disastrous fire in the 1930s.

As Ellie Carver sits by her grandmother’s bedside, she hears stories of a castle . . . of lost love and a hidden chapel that played host to a secret fight in the World War II French resistance. But her grandmother is quickly slipping into the locked-down world of Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history.

Sparked by the discovery of a long forgotten family heirloom, Ellie embarks on a journey to French wine country to uncover the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty–the castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale–and unearth its secrets before they’re finally silenced by time.

Set in three different time periods–the French Revolution, World War II, and present day–The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged, and an enchanted castle that inspired the epic fairy tales time left behind.

MY REVIEW: 

I have read and enjoyed books by Kristy Cambron in the past.  She is a wonderful author and writes about subject matter that is appealing to a diverse audience.  This book, however, is something special.

The cover is beautiful and is what originally brought the book to my attention.  Then, I saw who the author was and knew I had to read it.  The story, which captured my attention from the start, tells the tale of three women in three eras — French Revolution, World War II, and present day.  However, for me, the main character really is the castle — La Belle au bois dormant,  The Sleeping Beauty.  It’s the one constant throughout the book.  Some books told in different time periods can be confusing, but, Kristy Cambron transitions seamlessly between the three with no distractions.

The book genre is Historical Christian Fiction.  There is not any religious content other than perhaps prayer and talk of God.  There is kissing, but no sex, and no strong language.  Even is you aren’t inclined toward Christian books, you will still enjoy this one.  I enjoyed it from beginning to end and can’t wait for the next in the series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to read and review this book.


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Read-a-thon Hour 8


I ended up falling asleep.  I knew Strongbow and music trivia were a bad idea last night!  But, I did finish my first book–Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston.  It’s YA and about a girl who gets drugged and raped at cheer camp and how her last year of school progresses as she tries to remember what happened and how to deal with it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the strong girl friendships.  There isn’t enough of that in the world right now.

So, onto my next book and a snack!  I’m excited to get into this one.  image.jpeg


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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


It’s just before 5 am in my little neck of the woods in BC, Canada.  There are few things that will get me up this early.  Christmas is one.  Read-a-thon is the other.  While I don’t have plans to read all day (we are celebrating my dad’s birthday later), it’s always fun to participate, knock a few books out, and of course, SNACKS!

One or two of these will be read today.  Wish me good luck today, and, wherever you may be, good luck to you, also.  image

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  Kelowna, BC, Canada
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?  Alice by Christina Henry
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Hummus!!!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  I’m pretty boring for the most part but I’ve loved books and reading since first grade.  Now, I work at a book store.  I’m married and have two teen daughters.  
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? Nothing different.  Just read, read, read,