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Tag: "literature"

“The New Chronicles of Barset” by Ilil Arbel

[ 6 ] June 10, 2010

[amazonify]1452845727[/amazonify]Reviewed by Poppy J.

The New Chronicles of Barset by Ilil Arbel is set in the year 1954, and highlights the well-bred citizens of Brasetshire as they scramble to accommodate a production of mega proportions. Miss Glamora Tudor and the new cast members are all in on the act. With characters like Jessica, Lady Norton, Mr. Goldwasser, Emma, Edmond and Mr. Alcott, the plot comes alive with the turn of each page.

In the story, Emma falls for a new beau, and is later invited on an adventure of a lifetime. The cast has a dilemma to solve with one of the leading characters and the results are hilarious and managed in grand style.

If the reader has trouble keeping up with the action, it is because the characters are having so much fun that it is difficult to put the book down. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to get away from the stress of the day, and relive a simpler and more elegant time within the pages.

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Ilil Arbel. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.
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Blog Tour: “Life After Yes” by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

[ 16 ] May 25, 2010

Please join Aidan Donnelley Rowley, author of Life After Yes, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Jennifer J.

Ever since Prudence Quinn O’Malley lost her father in the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, she has inwardly struggled to let him go. On the outside, Quinn leads a perfectly wonderful life. Her boyfriend Sage has just proposed to her in Paris, and they are now planning the perfect wedding. She is a promising attorney with high aspirations for her future. She has a devoted personal trainer who is molding her figure into the most desirable form. Although events in her life are pushing her to move forward, Quinn is stuck in her past. The more she starts noticing Sage’s flaws, the more she questions if she made the right decision in answering “yes”.

Taking her frightening dreams too literally, Quinn is ready to self-destruct. To Sage’s dismay, Quinn begins drinking herself to the point where everything is a blur and she becomes numb. An encounter with a past flame leaves Quinn wondering if she made the right decisions in her life. Will Quinn leave her past in the past, or will she walk down the aisle and become Sage’s wife?

In Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelly Rowley, her protagonist Quinn goes on a painful journey of recovering from past losses and heartbreak, and moving forward to embrace an uncertain future. Quinn is a perfectly flawed heroine; it is both easy to hate her and to love her, but just as easy to forgive her. The decisions Quinn faces are common relationship dilemmas, and certainly many of readers have had to make a similar decision in their own lives.

Although Life After Yes tackles some heavy issues such as a parent’s death, reconsidering an impending marriage, engaging in an affair with a past lover, and betraying a friend’s trust, it is still overall an uplifting story. It is not what I consider to be a fluff read; Rowley is very knowledgeable in philosophy and it is apparent in this novel. I absolutely fell in love with her passages on Plato and true love and marriage. Ever since finishing this novel, I have pondered those paragraphs and shared them with friends. This book is highly recommended for readers who enjoy intelligent women’s literature.

Please visit Aidan Donnelley Rowley on Facebook and follow along on her blog tour.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

A review copy was provided free of any obligation by Avon A. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

[ 7 ] May 21, 2010

Reviewed by Jennifer J.

16-year-old Claire’s poolside birthday party is a success–until a werewolf’s murder spree results in all of Claire’s guests leaving early to get safely behind doors. But who cares about werewolves when Matthew Engle has just asked Claire out? As if going through puberty wasn’t enough, Claire starts going through changes that she’s sure aren’t normal. Suddenly she is growing hair at an accelerated rate on the backs of her hands and the tops of her ears. Claire’s mother Marie finally reveals to Claire that she is turning into a werewolf, and introduces her into the werewolf pack she’s kept secret from Claire for the last 16 years–a secret that Claire must keep from all of her friends, including Matthew.

To make matters worse, Matthew is the son of a bloodthirsty scientist who will stop at nothing to rid their town from werewolves. Forbidden from dating Matthew, Claire tests her mother’s and her new pack’s boundaries as she chooses to follow the lure of her very human heart. When Claire’s mother is captured pursuing the rogue werewolf, Claire is forced to jeopardize her own secret identity to save her mother. Matthew is the only one who can help Claire, but can she trust him?

Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson is an exciting, new twist on werewolves. In Johnson’s imaginative world, only females can ever be werewolves. If a werewolf becomes pregnant with a male child, it will abort itself. Werewolves worship a Goddess, the Creator, instead of the Christian God, and participate in rituals that have something of a Wiccan feel to them. Some of the mystery behind the werewolves is taken away when the author tries to describe how the werewolf teaches herself to shift between wolf and human form. I would have preferred if the author had left this part out, however, to add to the mystery and magic behind werewolves.

I enjoyed the innocent flirtation and budding romance between Matthew and Claire, and can’t wait to see how it is developed in future novels. Both Matthew and Claire have complicated relationships with each of their parents, which will certainly add thrill and suspense to plot development. Though I didn’t care much for Marie, Claire certainly does, despite their differences. There is room for improvement in the dialogue exchanges between Claire and Marie, though some of it could be attributed to English most likely not being Marie’s first language. Though it might be premature to say, Claire de Lune just may do for werewolves what Twilight did for vampires.

For more information, please visit Christine Johnson’s website.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Simon Pulse. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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"The Family Man" by Elinor Lipman

[ 5 ] May 20, 2010

Reviewed by Poppy J.

Elinor Lipman’s The Family Man is a great book for read any time, equally a beach book and one to enjoy during a quiet weekend at home. The story centers on Henry Archer, the not so recent divorcee, who finds out that his daughter, Thalia, is amenable to renewing a father-daughter relationship with him after all. The Family Man is interesting because of the other characters that come into the lives of the main characters. It is compelling because of the writing and nuances of emotions described between everyone involved in the story.

Tahlia is a burgeoning actress who hasn’t found her niche in the industry. She also hasn’t “found herself” and this is made clear by the choices she makes along the way. The reader will feel that Henry tries his best to lead and guide Tahlia, but understands that his influence on her will be shared with that of her mother, Denise. Tahlia and Denise are estranged, and throughout the book, Henry works to at once hide, then display the fact that he has reconciled with Denise. In the end, Tahlia will need both of her parents to make the best decisions for the events that will shape the rest of her life.

The characters in The Family Man are real as real can be. For anyone who has ever lived in NYC, you will realize you know actual people who are just like these characters, and the similarities to real life experiences are uncanny. This book is funny in all the right places. It offers an introspective look into the lives of people interested in doing what is right, but are not too sure on how to get there. A great read for audiences of any age.

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Mariner Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: "Dismantled" by Jennifer McMahon

[ 10 ] May 19, 2010

Please join Jennifer McMahon, author of Dismantled, as she tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Vera (Luxury Reading)

Ten years ago, Tess, Henry, Suz and Winnie, a.k.a. the Compassionate Dismantlers, were newly minted college graduates living in an abandoned cabin in Vermont. Following the manifesto of the group they formed in college, “To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart”, the foursome set fires at construction sites, poured sugar in gas tanks of SUVs, and manufactured claims of physical abuse, among others. Their ring leader’s Suz’s ideas for stunts became more and more dangerous, with one eventually resulting in her death. The remaining Dismantlers chose to bury the accident and the body at the bottom of the lake and went own their own ways, telling anybody who asked that Suz was headed to California.

Fast forward to present day, Tess and Henry are married and living in Vermont with their nine-year-old daughter Emma, just minutes away from the cabin of their dismantling days. They rarely speak of Suz’s death, but their guilt comes rushing to the surface when a postcard mailed from Vermont and bearing the words Dismantlement = Freedom triggers the suicide of Spencer Styles, Winnie’s college boyfriend. The Styles family hires an investigator to look into Spencer’s death, but his inquisitive manner turns out to be the least of Tess’ and Henry’s problems.

Tess always accepted that her daughter’s invisible friend, Danner, was a product of Emma’s wild imagination. However, in the wake of Dismantlement postcards and Winnie running around town dressed like Suz, Danner begins to take on more sinister characteristics as well. Suddenly, Emma is repeating Danner’s riddles – riddles Suz made up ten years ago – and asking Danner how she died. And whereas Danner seemed to be a friendly “presence” before, Emma is increasingly fearful of the things Danner does and the way she sometimes appears.

As Tess and Henry scramble to ward off the investigator’s penetrating questions and keep their past buried, their past may already be there knocking on their door…

To say that Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon kept me on my toes would be an understatement. McMahon weaved together a story that sucked me in, made me comfortable and then threw in a chilling punch when I least expected it. While I found all characters to be well written, it was Emma’s character that had the words “spooky” and “tripped out” constantly at the tip of my tongue. Was this nine-year old seeing ghosts, was she possessed, autistic, schizophrenic or maybe something else entirely? I switched from one conclusion to another, never finding one that quite fit. And that was true of the novel as well – any conclusion formed about the outcome was quickly disregarded as more haunting events were set in motion.

Caution: do not read Dismantled alone at night.

Please visit Jennifer McMahon’s website and follow along on her blog tour.

A review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: "The Danish Girl" by David Ebershoff

[ 4 ] May 18, 2010

Please join David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl, as he tours the blogosphere with TLC Book Tours!

Reviewed by Erin N.

In the 1920’s, Denmark saw the rise of one of its most renowned artistic couples, Einar and Greta Wegener. Einar was a native Dane, born and raised in the bogs of Bluetooth by an elderly grandmother and a bedridden father. Motherless and alone, Einar befriended the son of the Baron who helped Einar break out of his shell and learn his first lesson about gender identity. After years of smothering his feminine feelings, Einar picked up the paintbrush and lost himself in the scenic panoramas of his art.

Greta Waud grew up in the orange groves of California. Heiress to her parent’s orange empire, Greta constantly felt the need to escape her life and found this escape in her first husband, Teddy, and then in Copenhagen.  Greta’s first marriage ended with the death of both her husband and her child. Greta’s second marriage ended with a death and a birth. But, Greta’s artistic career flourished when she began to paint her favorite subject, a shy but pretty young woman named Lili.

The Danish Girl is a fictionalized account of the life of Einar Wegener, Danish painter and the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery. It is also a story about love, marriage, loss, and metamorphosis. David Ebershoff does a wonderful job of portraying the depth of love that one person can have for another and the almost split personality that the transgendered must endure in order to cope with a body that doesn’t match with who they are. A motion picture based upon The Danish Girl is in the works.

Please follow along with David Ebershoff’s blog tour! More information about the movie adaptation, featuring Nicole Kidman as Eina Wegener, is available at IMDb. The role of Greta Wegener was given to Charlize Theron and then Gwyneth Paltrow, but both have dropped out.

Erin fell in love with the written word as a small child and subsequently spent most of her life happily devouring literature.  She works as a freelance news, marketing, and technical writer.  Erin lives just outside of Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

A review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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