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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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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Historical Fiction Reading Challenge


In an effort to get back into reading and reviewing, I decided to join the Passages to the Past Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for 2018.

I’m going to be a Renaissance reader this year and plan to read/review 10 historical fiction books.  If you want to join, click the picture for the details!  There are other levels available and it’ll be great fun.  While I have several books on my shelves for challenge, I’m sure I’ll end up picking up a few more before the year is up just from reading reviews from other participators. 

While my first book of the year isn’t historical (I want to broaden my horizons this year), I’ll be back soon with my first post!

 

All the best with your reading goals this year.

Martina @ Book Drunkard

 


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The It Girl and Me: A Novel of Clara Bow by Laini Giles, review


The It Girl and Me: A Novel of Clara Bow by Laini Giles

Publication Date: March 25, 2017
Sepia Stories Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 341 Pages

Series: Forgotten Actresses, Book #2
Gere: Historical Fiction/Biographical

Daisy DeVoe has left her abusive husband, her father has been pinched for bootlegging, and she’s embarrassed by her rural Kentucky roots. But on the plus side, she’s climbing the ladder in the salon of Paramount Pictures, styling hair for actress Clara Bow.

Clara is a handful. The “It” Girl of the Jazz Age personifies the new woman of the 1920s onscreen, smoking, drinking bootleg hooch, and bursting with sex appeal. But her conduct off the set is even more scandalous. Hoping to impose a little order on Clara’s chaotic life, Paramount persuades Daisy to sign on as Clara’s personal secretary.

Thanks to Daisy, Clara’s bank account is soon flush with cash. And thanks to Clara, Daisy can finally shake off her embarrassing past and achieve respectability for herself and her family.

The trouble begins when Clara’s newest fiancé, cowboy star Rex Bell, wants to take over, and he and Daisy battle for control. Torn between her loyalty to Clara and her love for her family, Daisy has to make a difficult choice when she ends up in the county jail.

Here, Daisy sets the record straight, from her poverty-stricken childhood to her failed marriage; from a father in San Quentin to her rollercoaster time with Clara, leaving out none of the juicy details.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble Chapters

 

My Review

The Jazz Age.  Classic Hollywood.  Clara Bow.

These words, or any combination thereof, make any book a must read for me.  I have long been enthralled with the glamour of the 1920s and of how women began to change and become more in charge of themselves.  If I could go back and live in any era, this would probably be the one.  I totally would have been a suffragette.

This book, as with the first book in the author’s Forgotten Actresses series, had me entertained from the very start.  Her characters are smart and witty and tough.  Daisy DeVoe didn’t have an easy start, but she made it work and pushed through her poverty only to become the personal secretary to none other than Clara Bow, Hollywood’s “It” girl.

Laini Giles writes the absolute best books I’ve read set during this era.  Painstaking research is apparent in each word and the reader is transported to a world we can only dream of.  The tale is told through Daisy which gives us a chance to see deeply into the lives of both of these women.  I hadn’t heard of Daisy before and was thrilled to learn that her story is true.  I was enchanted from the start and couldn’t wait to see how it all ended, yet I did not want it to end.  Excellent book and must read for anyone who is a fan of Old Hollywood.

 

About the Author

 

Originally from the counterculture mecca of Austin, Texas, Laini discovered a love of reading early on, and when she was eight, decided to be Nancy Drew. This dream was dashed when she realized she was actually a big chicken, and that there were no guarantees of rescue from tarantulas, bad guys with guns, and other fiendish plot twists. She finished her first “mystery novel” (with custom illustrations) when she was nine.

She set the writing aside for a while when life got in the way, but was led back to it through her interest in genealogy and 18 months of enforced unemployment due to moving north for maple-flavored goodies and real beer. Reading old microfilm stirred new life into her interest in writing, and watching early silent films struck the match.

Like most other writers, most of her monthly budget is spent on coffee and books. She lives with her husband and their two gray cats in Edmonton, Alberta.

For more information, please visit Laini Giles’ website. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Goodreads.

 

Blog Tour Schedule

 

Wednesday, November 1
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Thursday, November 2
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, November 3
Feature at So Many Books, So Little Time

Monday, November 6
Review at Bookish

Tuesday, November 7
Feauture at WS Momma Readers Nook

Thursday, November 9
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Friday, November 10
Review at A Bookaholic Swede

Monday, November 13
Review at Creating Herstory
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, November 15
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, November 17
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Monday, November 20
Feature at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 22
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, November 23
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books

Friday, November 24
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Saturday, November 25
Excerpt at T’s Stuff

Tuesday, November 28
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Wednesday, November 29
Review at A Book Drunkard


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Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome by Faith L. Justice, review.


Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome
by Faith L. Justice

Publication Date: May 12, 2017
Raggedy Moon Books
eBook & Print; 392 Pages

Series: The Theodosian Women, Book 1
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Action & Adventure

 

Twilight Empress tells the little-known story of a remarkable woman—Galla Placidia, sister to one of the last Roman Emperors. Roman princess, Gothic captive and queen—Placidia does the unthinkable—she rules the failing Western Roman Empire—a life of ambition, power and intrigue she doesn’t seek, but can’t refuse. Her actions shape the face of Western Europe for centuries.

A woman as well as an Empress, Placidia suffers love, loss, and betrayal. Can her strength, tenacity and ambition help her survive and triumph over scheming generals, rebellious children, and Attila the Hun? Or will the Dark Ages creep closer and bring down the Empire?

Amazon US | Amazon CAN | Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBound | Kobo

My Review

TWILIGHT EMPRESS by Faith L. Justice is exactly the type of book I mention when people ask me why I love Historical Fiction so much.  Like the author, I’m a history junkie, so I appreciate her writing style and the research and time it takes to create a story set during an era long forgotten.

Placidia is a wonderful character.  She’s not one accept her fate when things get tough, and sadly, that was a lot!  She’s strong and loving and gracious.  She’s not someone I’ve heard of before and I completely devoured her story.  In times such as this, it’s nice to read about a strong woman in a man’s world.

I’m thrilled I was able to learn something new while reading this book.  It’s an incredible and inspirational journey.

I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

Faith L. Justice is a science geek and history junkie, which is reflected in her writing. Her short stories and poems have appeared in such publications as “The Copperfield Review”, “Beyond Science Fiction and Fantasy”, and the “Circles in the Hair” anthology. Faith has published in such venues as “Salon.com”, “Writer’s Digest”, “The Writer”, and “Bygone Days”. She’s an Associate Editor for “Space & Time Magazine”, a frequent contributor to “Strange Horizons”, and co-founded a writer’s workshop more years ago than she cares to admit.

To contact Faith, read her essays and interviews, or get a sneak preview of her historical novels, visit her website at www.faithljustice.com. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 11
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, September 12
Feature at The Hungry Bookworm
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Wednesday, September 13
Review at Book Drunkard

Thursday, September 14
Feature at The Reading Queen

Friday, September 15
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All

Monday, September 18
Review at Creating Herstory

Tuesday, September 19
Review at The Muse in the Fog Reviews

Wednesday, September 20
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Muse in the Fog Reviews

Thursday, September 21
Feature at A Holland Reads

Friday, September 22
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, September 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Tuesday, September 26
Feature at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, September 27
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review & Giveaway at What Cathy Read Next

Friday, September 29
Review at Bookramblings
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Monday, October 2
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, October 3
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, October 4
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 5
Review at A Bookish Affair


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Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran, review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.

MY REVIEW:

Michelle Moran has long been one of my favourite authors and I have enjoyed every one of her books so far.  MATA HARI’S LAST DANCE is no exception.

I knew little about Mata Hari when I picked up this book other than that she was a spy.  Margareth Zelle MacLeod, also known as “M’greet”, didn’t have an easy life growing up, nor during her years of marriage. Learning her background was much appreciated and helped me to understand her choices later in life.  I don’t often cry reading books, but this one had me in tears at the end.  Is it weird that even though I knew the history, I still hoped for a different ending??

Moran has a knack for writing about strong female characters in history.  I always feel more akin to them after I’ve read her books.  Her writing style is easy and smooth and I fly through the pages while wishing sleep and work weren’t things.  Also, the cover is stunning!!

The book is on the slim side and if I had a complaint, that would be it.  I wish the book had been longer so that the story didn’t feel rushed.  There was much I would have loved to had expanded.  However I do understand that too much of the same thing–dances and conquests–could have weighed the story down too much and made it bland.  I’m looking forward to what Michelle Moran writes next!

4 stars

Thank you to Touchstone for the ebook version via NetGalley