Friday, November 22, 2013

Gracianna by Trini Amador


 
Gracianna is a beautiful person and a beautiful story.  I guess we can't really call it a story, though, because it is the life of a determined, strong, hardworking, and well-loved woman.  The tribute her grandson gave to her in this book is wonderful.

Gracianna is an impressive woman and a woman who wanted to make something of herself and be proud of it for herself and her family.  Halfway was not good enough for Gracianna.  She had to do everything over and above.  I felt her knowingly doing everything correct so she could fulfill her dream of making it to America.

You will fall in love with Gracianna by the end of the first five pages.  You will also wonder what drove her besides her heritage.  If the story doesn't grab you, and I don't see how it won't, the cover definitely will have you intrigued.  The cover is what caught my eye to begin with.

Mr. Amador tells the story of his great grandmother very lovingly and with so much pride.  His pride oozes through his descriptions of her life and all the situations she endured.  I was fascinated at Gracianna's determination in good times and bad.  The bad of course being her living in Paris during the Nazi occupation. The Paris she grew to love and fight for through the horrors of the Nazi occupation.  There are some tense moments throughout the book, but that is expected for this time period in history.  You will definitely fear for Gracianna as she is helping the French resistance.

Everyone should read GRACIANNA for the pure beauty of how her story is told and how her life shows that anything is possible no matter how awful circumstances are. The most wonderful part of GRACIANNA is that Trini sends out his love that fills the pages and gives the reader a cozy feeling.

I thoroughly recommend GRACIANNA for the historical aspect as well as the wonderful descriptions and lessons taught.  Gracianna was a bit harsh on herself, but we all have a personality that was shaped in our childhood and Gracianna took her shaping to the highest point and made herself happy doing it.

You will want to read GRACIANNA so you can feel the power and the beauty of her story as well as feel her strength and determination.       5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the author in return for an honest review.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Tahoe Chase by Todd Borg


Owen McKenna is back again breaking hearts, breaking jaws, breaking rules, and solving murders.

Murders that were made to look like accidents were plaguing this ski town, and all the reasons for the murders were pointing back to one man, Joe, who was opposing the building of another ski resort.  Could this be the real reason or was it a diversion?

Why would someone want to hurt or kill anyone associated with Joe and especially his sweet wife?  Joe had no idea, and Owen was on the trail as one person after another kept being eliminated.  It wasn't an easy trail to follow even in ski country.

The characters are well developed as in Mr. Borg's other books, and most are likable and pleasant, especially Owen. The book also brought up domestic abuse and psychological issues along with the murders.  Every facet was very well researched.

The tension of the investigation isn't one that will have you chewing your fingernails, but I liked it that way.  It is a good mystery that will have you guessing until the end about who the murderer is. TAHOE CHASE has a good twist on who the murderer turns out to be.  I thought I definitely knew, but did not guess correctly.  I actually had two suspects in mind, and neither was correct.  :)

TAHOE CHASE was an easy, smooth read with skiing as a major theme.  If you are a skiing fan, you will be drooling over the details...they were phenomenal, but the skiing detail was a bit too much for me, though.  It actually was overwhelming in the sense that it wasn’t of interest.


I am going to rate this book a 4/5.  It is another good read by Mr. Borg. 

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the author in return for an honest review.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

 
 

 

A rook was the beginning and the end for William Bellman.

Black was the color of the day for this book along with rooks, who according to the author never forget.

BELLMAN & BLACK was an unusual read with the premise of death, darkness, black birds (rooks), the color black, and black events...namely funerals and mourning goods.

William Bellman inherited a cloth mill and made it very successful, but when a deathly illness plagued and overran his town, he had another business in mind partnering with the mysterious man in a black cloak.

Who was the cloaked man who took all the light away at Will's mother's funeral?  Why was this man always around when there was a funeral?

Was this cloaked man and all the deaths in Will's family the result of Will's killing a rook when he was ten? Was this man with the black cloak Bellman's inspiration, success, or his downfall? Why were these rooks always hanging around?

BELLMAN & BLACK is a bit dark, but it still held my interest.  Ms. Setterfield has a way with words and dark themes, but despite holding my interest, BELLMAN & BLACK was a bit dragged out hearing about William's life and then his new-found wealth.  


I didn't seem to find the "ghost" in this ghost story until the very end.  The "ghost" was a subtle theme even though it was to be the main theme.  You will enjoy the wrapup in the ending pages....they were very unique.

Ms. Setterfield definitely did her research when it came to rooks.  The different names that a collection of rooks can be called
was quite interesting.

I am going to rate BELLMAN & BLACK a 3.5/5 even though Ms. Setterfield does draw you in with her excellent writing skills, her fantastic descriptions of scenes, her brilliance, and
her amazing creativity because something just seemed to be off the mark a bit in this novel.

If you like dark themes, and you don't mind being told every detail of someone's life, you will enjoy this book.  So please don't let me "frighten" you away from reading BELLMAN & BLACK.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.


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ABOUT DIANE SETTERFIELD 

Diane Setterfield became a literary cause célèbre when her first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, soared to the #1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list within its first week of publication. 

A haunting gothic mystery, the Washington Post summed up the novel’s appeal succinctly in the first sentence of its review: 

“If you are a Reader with a capital R, as is the narrator of Diane Setterfield’s debut novel, the pages of The Thirteenth Tale will remind you of what you know and love: the world of books.“   

Released to tremendous acclaim, the novel was called “a page turner in every sense of the word” (The Financial Times); “…eerie and fascinating and should delight lovers of books old and new” (USA Today); “a novel for book lovers” (Reader’s Digest); and People Magazine lauded: “Readers will feel the magnetic pull of this paean to words, books and the magical power of story.“


I LOVED HER FIRST BOOK.....




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Now, seven years after her bold debut, Emily Bestler Books will publish BELLMAN & BLACK the much anticipated second novel by Diane Setterfield.  

“I have heard it said, by those that cannot possibly know, that in the final moments of a man’s existence he sees his whole life pass before his eyes.”  So begins a dark and mesmerizing tale guaranteed to haunt you to your very core… 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

 
“We must never allow the world to forget." Page 179

That quote says it all, and Ben Solomon vowed to follow through on this edict, and he definitely was following through.

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS is a powerful, well-researched first novel that will have you glued to the pages as Ben tells his story of hatred, horror, and the annihilation of his and other Jewish families during WWII.

Telling the story of the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Poland was stressful for the 83-year-old main character, Ben, but he had to tell it all, and Catherine, his attorney, wanted to be the one to help arrest Elliott/Otto.

Ben knew he knew Elliott Rosenzweig was not really Elliott Rosenzweig, but Otto Piatek, his brother turned Nazi during the war, and the person who was not accused of his horrific war crimes but living in the United States as a billionaire philanthropist.

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS moves from present day to WWII in Poland as Ben Solomon tells how his family had to live and survive under Nazi occupation as a Jewish family.

ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS tells how Otto, a German boy, was left with the Solomon family, a Jewish family, because his mother couldn't take care of him.  Otto became part of the Jewish home and loved the Solomons like his own family until his mother showed up and insisted he join the Germans.

Mr. Balson did a fantastic job researching for his first book and detailing every scene.  ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS is a beautiful way to tell a horrible historical story.

You will feel as though you are inside the pages of the book and connecting with the characters both present and past. This book was amazing.

I am always in awe of the strength of the Europeans during this time period.  How did they survive and deal with all that was going on especially the Jewish population?

This compelling WWII book is one you will want to read.  It is perfectly relayed, phenomenal, and a part of history that again reveals what WWII was about.  I finished this book in ONE day, and that is unusual for me.

Don't miss reading ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS.  I definitely needed tissues a number of times and especially at the end and definitely when they told of the freeing of Buchenwald because my father was one of the Americans that freed this concentration camp. 

This book is given an unequivocal 5/5.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent



It's the Wild West with a prostitute and an inexperienced lawman running loose.

Lucinda Carter and Nate Cannon will take you on a ride through the 1870's as they try to make a new life for themselves.  They both wanted to start over, but they both ended up doing the same thing they always did.

Lucinda went from being a prostitute to being a teacher, and Nate is trying his hand at being a lawman to make a better life for his family.

Lucinda isn't an upstanding character, but her profession made her that way.  She stole money from her landlady who is also the owner of the brothel she escaped from.  Lucinda is only interested in herself and finding something that a friend told her was in the town she moved to.  Lucinda was difficult to like simply because you knew she wasn't on the up and up.

Nate is a good man trying to fit in even though he is a greenhorn.  I liked him because of his innocence and loyalty.

The book took a while for me to get interested because I wasn't sure where it was heading and how these two characters and their stories were connected.  Each chapter went back and forth between the two characters.  When you find out the connection between the two main characters, you will be surprised.

THE OUTCASTS became a bit better as you followed Lucinda around the classroom and back to her old ways and as you followed Nate around the countryside, but it still wasn't a wow.  It actually wasn’t a favorite read.

I do have to say, though, that the writing is very descriptive allowing you to clearly see the scenes and activities of both characters.

The cover definitely pulled me in, and I was hoping for a better-connected story, but I wasn't "dying" to get back to the book .

Give it a try, though, if you like the Wild West.  I am rating THE OUTCASTS 3/5.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher at a Hachette Book Event in New York City in return for an honest review.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dollface by Renee Rosen

 

It's the Roaring 20's.

Prohibition, speakeasies, gangsters, the rich and the poor.  DOLLFACE portrays the life of those living in Chicago during this time.  No one was exempt from what was going on.

Vera Abramowitz worked in the typing pool of an insurance firm and also as a telephone operator to make ends meet, and she still made next to nothing.  She didn't want to do this for her entire life and then met Shep Green, a gangster.  She also met Tony Liolli who also was a gangster. She began dating both men, even though she knew she was playing with fire by dating both of them at the same time.

Despite the danger she was putting herself in, she couldn't help herself.  Tony was fun, Shep had power, and she didn't want to turn out like her mother....poor and still working in the slaughterhouse.  Then something happened and she found out who the "real" man was and who the "real" slacker was.

DOLLFACE is written in an easy style that grabs you as you want to learn more about this time period.  The characters are definitely authentic, and the activity at that time appears to be right on.

You will love following Vera from rags to riches and then through a rough time, but Vera was tough. You will be shocked at what she does as a woman in the 1920's as well as bite your fingernails as you see what risky things she gets herself into. Vera carries this fabulous story along even though it is difficult to like her or to agree with what she does.

I really enjoyed DOLLFACE.  The reality of events was terrific.  The author captured the perfect picture of this time period and did excellent research.

You will want to read this book if you are a fan of historical fiction and more specifically the 1920's. It was a great read. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Friday, November 1, 2013

THE LOST DUCHESS by Jenny Barden

Introducing Jenny Barden 
AND
her book:

THE LOST DUCHESS 

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I am happy to have Jenny Barden on my blog today to tell us about her newest book.

It really sounds good.


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Elizabeth, I'm immensely grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to say a few words about my forthcoming release, The Lost Duchess

I hope this novel will be of interest to your followers in the US since it concerns the mystery surrounding the ill-fated 'Lost Colony' of Roanoke and the attempt to found the very first permanent English colony in America. I'm delighted to offer a giveaway to anyone reading this who might like the chance of owning a first edition signed copy of the book in advance of almost everyone else in the States, since the book will be first published by Ebury Press (part of the Random House group) in the UK and elsewhere. To enter, simply leave a comment below, and I'll leave Elizabeth to announce the winner in a week's time. Here's what my publishers have to say about the novel:

An epic Elizabethan adventure with a thriller pace and a high tension love story that moves from the palaces of England to the savage wilderness of the New World.

Emme Fifield has fallen about as far as a gentlewoman can.
Once a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, her only hope of surviving the scandal that threatens to engulf her is to escape England for a fresh start in the new America where nobody has ever heard of the Duchess of Somerset.

Emme joins Kit Doonan's rag-tag band of idealists, desperados and misfits bound for Virginia. But such a voyage will be far from easy and Emme finds her attraction to the mysterious Doonan inconvenient to say the least.

As for Kit, the handsome mariner has spent years imprisoned by the Spanish, and living as an outlaw with a band of escaped slaves; he has his own inner demons to confront, and his own dark secrets to keep...

Ever since Sir Walter Raleigh's settlement in Virginia was abandoned in 1587 its fate has remained a mystery; 'The Lost Duchess' explores what might have happened to the ill-starred 'Lost Colony' of Roanoke.

The book will be released on 7 November in hardback, as an ebook and trade paperback, with the mass market paperback to follow in the summer of next year.

I hope that this link will be of use to anyone in the US wanting a copy:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-Duchess-Jenny-Barden-ebook/dp/B00DW4LBKE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383048172&sr=8-1&keywords=the+lost+duchess+jenny+barden

In researching this novel I travelled to Roanoke Island in North Carolina, the Outer Banks and all around the Pamlico Sound, to Puerto Rico and the sites of the Elizabethan palaces in London, England. This is where the story begins, in the Palace of Richmond that was razed to the ground after the English Civil War leaving only a few relics such as this Gate House dating back to 1501.


Sir Francis Drake returned in triumph here, following his raid on Santo Domingo in the Caribbean, bearing news of Sir Walter Raleigh's garrison left on Roanoke which Drake evacuated following a hurricane. Imagine passing through this gate to hear what he has to say...

The next expedition to Roanoke would carry ordinary men, women and children. They would be intent on founding an enduring community and remaining in the New World all their lives.

Their vision is now shared by almost everyone who lives in the USA today.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. 

Book Beginnings - 11/1/13


*Please join Rose City Reader every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author's name.  *Taken directly from Rose City Reader's Blog Page.

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This week's Book Beginnings is taken from Gracianna by Trini Amador.

"Odds are I was the only four-year-old to have ever freely fumbled a loaded German Luger.  I was barely able to lift it.  How could I know it was a real gun?"

It is quite good.  An intriguing story about the author's great-grandmother's life before, during, and after WWII.

I am enjoying it.


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This is one of the books I had featured last week on Book Beginnings, and it is worthy of mentioning it again.

TAMARACK COUNTY by William Kent Krueger.

It was a wonderful read.