Friday, May 24, 2019

Puttin' on the... Resistance!

Book Review for “Mistress of the Ritz” by Melanie Benjamin.



Benjamin’s latest novel is about Blanche Auzello, the American woman who in 1924 married Claude, the manager of the Ritz in Paris. In the years of recovery after the Great War, Paris was host to some of the richest and most famous people from across the globe, and the number one place to be and be seen in Paris was the Ritz. When Blanche arrived in Paris, she was hoping to kick-start her film career, but instead, she entered into a whirlwind romance, that culminated in their marrying, without a thought to how very different they were. When the winds of another war begin to blow, neither Blanche nor Claude are willing to leave either Paris or the Ritz, and Blanche being secretly Jewish when Nazis start showing up at the hotel, is going to complicate things, even if she is the “Mistress of the Ritz”. (Thanks for the free book, @PRHGlobal/@prhinternational.)


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

TCL's Countdown Questions #1: Author Melanie Benjamin



An Alternative Author Interview:

TCL's Countdown Questions.



My fellow blogger Jill Doyle has a lovely thing on her blog called “Five on Friday” where she asks authors five questions that each require five answers. I thought this was really great, mostly because I’ve never done an author interview myself – at least not a good one. I mean, I’ve asked authors for guest posts, but so far, I've only given them one question to answer. That’s not really an interview. So, I thought that if I could come up with a set of fun questions to ask authors, maybe I’d do it myself. After quite a bit of thinking, I came up with the following:

  • If you could visit five (5) places you’ve never been, where would you go and why?
  • Name four (4) foods or dishes that you enjoy so much that they’ve practically become part of your personality.
  • There is the past, the present, and the future – if you could choose, which of these three (3) would you prefer to live in, and why?
  • Best and worst – you choose which – name two (2) of either your best moments of your life, worst moments of your life, or one of each.
  • Name one (1) book you’ve read in the past year (or so) that you wish you had written, and why.
 

Friday, May 17, 2019

First Impression Friday for May 17, 2019


 
First Impression Friday is hosted by J.W. Martin. Apparently, it has a brand new theme, but this is the first one I'm joining in on, so...

First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther.

Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bookish Kinship Building.

Book Review for “The Printed Letter Bookshop” by Katherine Reay.


This is the story of three women and the memory of another. The memory is of Maddie Cullen, the owner of the Printed Letter Bookshop in the small town of Eagle Valley IL, not far from Chicago. Two of these three women work with Maddie – Janet and Claire. The other one is Maddie’s namesake and niece, Madeline Cullen. According to Goodreads: “One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt—and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.”

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Poetically Explosive Story

Book Review for “My Counterfeit Self” by Jane Davis



Lucy Forrester is a poet. That means by definition that she uses her words to express all the emotions she’s feeling, be they personal or be they political. In fact, she’s something of a rebel, but one with a cause she’s not willing to give up; the threat of the nuclear armament policies, in her own country of England as well as across the globe. The problem with Lucy is that if she’s going to use her poems to get her message across, she needs an audience, and one that is as wide as possible. However, Lucy isn’t one for fame, in fact, she’d rather be shamed than honored for her works. This dilemma is one she’s struggled with her whole life, and now that she’s getting older, she wonders if what she’s been showing the public is who she really is, or instead is a persona that she’s carved out to promote her cause.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Fatherhood and its Flaws.

Book Review for “Things My Son Needs to Know About the World” by Fredrik Backman.


As a change of pace for Backman, this is not a book of fiction, but rather a type of memoir, which is also something that could be considered an advice book. The publisher calls this a collection of “personal dispatches from the front lines of one of the most daunting experiences any man can experience: fatherhood.” But whatever you call it, my regular readers will know by now that I’ve been a fan of Backman’s work since I read his first translated novel, “A Man Called Ove” and he’s been on my “Top Five” lists every year since then, often grabbing the #1 spot. Since then, Backman’s publicist has come to know me, and I’m on her list of bloggers that gets first crack at his work, and I totally adore her for it! I actually wrote to her asking about his next novel, but apparently that’s not quite ready yet, so she offered me this book. 


Saturday, May 4, 2019

#6Degrees - Six Degrees of Separation for May 4 2019

From “The Dry” to “What Girls are Good For.”

This is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at  Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are here in this graphic:


This month (May 4, 2019), the chain begins with Jane Harper’s best-selling debut novel, The Dry.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Conundrum of the Phenomenon.

Book Review for “The Girl Puzzle: A Story of Nellie Bly” by Kate Braithwaite.

This new historical, biographical fiction novel is about Elizabeth Cochrane, the investigative journalist of the late 19th century and early 20th century, who was better known as Nellie Bly. Apparently, Bly is a hot topic at the moment, since this is now the third novel that I’ve read that touches on Bly’s famous experience. The first was David Blixt’s novel of Bly’s earliest parts of her career, and the other one was Greer Macallister’s “Woman 99” where the main character is inspired by Bly’s story, and enters an asylum in order to save her sister who was committed to the institution. Thankfully, through intense, and compelling prose Braithwaite has given us a slightly different take on Bly and her life, as she portrays this woman not only as the true phenomenon that she was, but also as something of a conundrum.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Photos of Female Fighters.

Book Review for “Women on the Front Lines: Inside the Combat Units of the Israeli Army” by Debbie Zimelman.



Yes, this is a photography book, and yes, I've never reviewed one of these before. But you see... Debbie is a personal friend of mine. We were work colleagues for a while many years ago, just when she started to believe in herself as a photographer. I was sorry to see her leave, but glad she did so to follow her dream. Of course, like many photographers, there is always the need to work commercially to make ends meet, while pursuing their artistic dreams. I hope that I was able to encourage her at least a little bit on her journey by hiring her to photograph some of my family events. So, for me to see her publish a book of her photography was exciting for me personally. That she decided to make this about women in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was heartwarming. It made me think of my own daughter’s army service, although she wasn’t a combat soldier. I remember that when my daughter was born, I dreamt that she would become a fighter pilot someday. That didn’t happen, but I’m still very proud of her service (as I am of my two sons’ service, as well). But hey! I’m supposed to be reviewing this book, not taking walks down memory lane, so here goes nothing! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday for April 23, 2019 - My first 10 Book Reviews!

Sorry... 

Blogger didn't post this when I scheduled it for!




Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:
  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Going for the Second Chances

Book Review of “Old Baggage” by Lissa Evans.



It is 1928, and Matilda (aka Mattie) Simpkin is living with her old friend from her Women's Suffrage Campaign days, Florrie Lee (lovingly known as “The Flea”), and still giving lectures on the suffragette movement, and why it is still important. Yes, it has been 10 years since some women were given the vote, and soon all women will receive this right; but it still feels like their work with the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) is not yet done. When an old friend shows up after a long stay in Australia, spouting that the WSPU is dead, and the real future belongs to – believe it or not – fascism, Mattie realizes that the only way to keep up what she started back before the Great War, is to get them while they’re young, and of course, to start with girls!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Literary Musings: Biographical, Historical Fiction.

A New Trend or an Old Friend?


One of my friends, Barbara Probst, who is a member of the Facebook group In Literary Love with me, recently put up a post on that page asking the following question of the group:

“What does everyone think about this new hybrid genre that's a cross between fiction and biography—the novelization of a real person's life? Recent examples are "The Age of Light" (a novelized version of the life of Lee Miller) and "The Only Woman in the Room") (a novelized version of the life of Hedy Lamar), but there are tons of others out there! I think it started 20 years ago when "Girl with a Pearl Earring" was published, but seems to be everywhere now! Just curious about whether people like this kind of book or prefer "true" fiction?”

Friday, March 29, 2019

Some Like it... with Ghosts!

Book Review of “The Beautiful Strangers” by Camille Di Maio.

There are actually two women named Kate Morgan. One of them is a ghost haunting at the famous Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, since her death in 1892. The other one is a young girl who is stuck working in her family’s fish and chip shop in San Francisco in 1958. But when the young Kate is urged by her grandfather to take a job on a movie set located at that hotel so she can chase her dreams as well as find his illusive “beautiful stranger” she jumps at the chance, even though she knows her grandfather is suffering from dementia.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Pieces of Lucy’s Life

Book Review of Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout.


With this book, Strout returns to her connected short story format, which she used for her well-known book, “Olive Kitteridge,” but this time she does so with a type of follow-up to her novel “My Name is Lucy Barton.” These nine stories take place in the fictional town of Amgash, Illinois – Lucy Barton’s home town. All of the characters in this book appeared as very minor characters in Strout’s novel, but now become their own protagonists, as Strout investigates each of them more deeply, together with their relationships – from comprehensive to practically insignificant – to the now famous Lucy, as well as with each other.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Pulling a "Nellie Bly"!

Book Review of “Woman 99” by Greer Macallister.



How far would you go to save your sister? What if she’s the one who saved your life many times throughout your childhood? Would you risk everything, possibly even your own sanity? This is the dilemma that Charlotte Smith faces when her sister Phoebe is put into an insane asylum, and it is also the basis for Greer Macallister’s third historical fiction novel. If this was a contemporary fiction novel, it might not be so compelling. But this becomes a harrowing tale because the action takes place in the late 19th century, not long after the journalist known as Nellie Bly revealed the horrors of those institutions.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Night Witches and Chasing Evil

Book Review of “The Huntress” by Kate Quinn.

 

By the beginning of 1950, the efforts to find Nazi war criminals and bring them to justice for their horrendous and unthinkable crimes was already on the wane, except for the biggest of fish. Still, some Nazi hunters couldn’t let go of finding any of these criminals, no matter how small. On this backdrop, Kate Quinn’s newest novel focuses on a British ex-war correspondent Ian and his American ex-soldier friend Tony, who aren’t willing to allow these Nazis to stay hidden and avoid justice, and in particular, die Jägerin – the Huntress – the woman who killed Ian’s brother Sebastian. Into this mix, comes Nina, a former combat pilot for the Soviet Army who, as a witness to Sebastian’s murder, joins forces with Ian and Tony in their quest. Finally, there’s Jordan, the young American woman in Boston who wants to become a photographer, but she knows her widowed father needs her, and is willing to sacrifice her career for him. Jordan also learns to suppress her suspicions about her father’s new wife, Annelise, a woman who left post-war Europe, bringing with her the obviously war-traumatized young girl, Ruth. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Teaser Tuesday for February 26, 2019.

teaser tuesday1


I'm going on a short vacation this weekend, so instead of my usual Friday/Saturday post, I decided I should join in on another...

Teaser Tuesday, the weekly bookish meme hosted by Ambrosia of The Purple Booker.


It is very easy to play along:

• Grab your current read and open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!




Friday, February 22, 2019

Guest Author Post & Free Giveaway for "Temptation Rag" by Elizabeth Huchison Bernard


"Temptation Rag: A Novel" by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Publication Date: December 3, 2018
Belle Epoque Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


From the author of The Beauty Doctor, Finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award, 2017 AZ Literary Awards, and a Medallion Honoree of the Book Readers Appreciation Group.



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday for February 19, 2019

ttt-big2 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Seasoned for Stealth

Book Review for “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King.


In the 1500s in Italy, there lived a man, Bartolomeo Scappi, who is known to this day as one of Europe’s most creative and talented chefs. Scappi, who died in 1577, rose from being a humble cook to a master who devised elaborate dishes and meals for kings and popes, leaving behind a famous, multi-volume cookbook as an eternal legacy to his art, although little is known of his personal life. The first volume of his book was lovingly dedicated to his nephew Giovanni, and according to author Crystal King, the way he wrote it sounded more like a father writing for his son, than an uncle for his nephew. This must have triggered King’s using this backdrop for this new biographical, historical, fiction novel, which is filled with so many intrigues and deceptions, I’m surprised that King didn’t use a double plural for the title!

Friday, February 8, 2019

My "Hello" to Philip Roth!

Book Review of “Goodbye, Columbus” by Philip Roth.

When I heard of Roth’s passing, I realized that while I knew the name well, and I’d seen some films based on his writings, I never read any of his books. In an attempt to correct that situation, I immediately went looking for some, and came up with a few to buy (second hand), including this collection of a novella and short stories, which was the first one I decided to read.

Now, keeping in mind the fact that this collection was published in 1959 (when I was only two years old – yes, really), I was certainly expecting that not everything here would feel relevant to us today. Mind you, because I’m that old, I also expected to understand more of these stories than much younger audiences. However, with a few minor exceptions, I have to say that I was very much pleasantly surprised to find out how very nicely these stories aged. In fact, there are some stories here that are practically evergreen in their subject matter.

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Tint and the Taint

Book Review of "The Blue" by Nancy Bilyeau.


In the author’s notes of this book, Bilyeau calls this “a spy story set amid the rivalry of eighteenth-century porcelain factories,” in which the author tells the story of Geneviève Planché, who becomes entangled in the intrigue behind discovering a new shade of blue that is also wrapped up in the Seven Year war between France and England during the reigns of Louis XV of France and George II of Britain. Heightening this tension is also the fact that Geneviève, is a Huguenot and therefore an enemy of the country of her own heritage, which forced her family to flee to England before she was born. Finally, there is Geneviève’s desire to become a real artist – a profession barred to women in both France and England. So, when Geneviève receives an offer that would eventually help her achieve her dream, she reluctantly accepts, because that it means she’ll still be relegated to decorating porcelain in Derby. Taking up that position, while spying on the manufactory to steal the color’s formula, is where the intrigue begins, and her discovering the chemist working on that formula, Thomas Sturbridge, also brings a romantic aspect to the whole tale.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday for January 29, 2019

ttt-big2

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:
  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is The Ten Most Recent Additions to My To-Read List:

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Beauty of Genius

Book Review of “The Only Woman in the Room” by Marie Benedict.

The name Hedy Lamarr might not mean much to many younger people these days, nor will the name Hedwig Kiesler, with or without the additional names of her many husbands. But Hedy Lamarr was a very popular screen and stage actress in Vienna and later, Hollywood from the 1930s through the 1950s. More importantly, something else you may never have heard of was her invention of spread-spectrum technology for frequency hopping. However, this was a precursor for many things I’m sure you have heard of, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology, as well as GPS. Yes, it is true that a beautiful, glamorous movie star helped invent something that led to things that we use each and every day (not to mention how this same technology has been used by the military with their drones since the Viet Nam War). Unfortunately, almost surely due to the misogyny of the era, her invention went ignored, despite the fact that it could have solved some deadly military problems faced allied forces during WWII. It therefore seems that the story of her life that led to this amazing invention is long overdue, and I’m thrilled that Benedict has done just this in her latest historical, biographical, women’s fiction novel.

Friday, January 18, 2019

7 Centuries and 6 Families of Paris

Book Review of “Paris: The Epic Novel of the City of Lights” by Edward Rutherfurd


Epic is a word that has been bandied about far too often, and putting it into the subtitle of this novel might seem a bit pretentious. However, it is precisely the word that use be used about this book, seeing as it is not only long (my copy had 832 pages), but it also covers several centuries of the history of this amazing city. With this, Edward Rutherfurd has gathered together a small group of families, which he has placed within this backdrop, at various stages ranging from the 1261 all the way through to 1968!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trash or Treasure Tuesday!

books-1015594_1280 Courtesy of Pixabay

AKA “Down The TBR Hole #1: Conquer your TBR”

My fellow blogger Bookish Rita turned me on to this, which was originally Lia @ Lost in a Story’s idea. The rules are very simple:


  1. Sort your Goodreads to-be-read shelf from oldest to new;
  2. Pick the first 5 or 10 (or whatever number you choose, depending on how large your list is) books you see;
  3. Decide whether to keep them or get rid of them.
With only 101 books on my TBR list, here are last ten I put on my list:

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Female Journalistic Pioneer

Book Review of “What Girls are Good For: A Novel of Nellie Bly” by David Blixt.

 

Anyone who has studied journalism, or is interested in historical women who were pioneers in their fields, will probably have heard of Nellie Bly, aka Elizabeth Cochrane. Nellie was famous mostly for getting herself admitted to an insane asylum in New York in the late 1880s. Her goal was to find out exactly how the treatment was in these places, and her reports ended up having far-reaching consequences. In this novel, David Blixt gives us some insights into Nellie’s life through a fascinating, biographical, historical fiction account.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Inconvenient Separations




cover152794-mediumBook Review of “Brides in the Sky: Stories and a Novella” by Cary Holladay.

This book is a collection of eight short stories and a novella, which include the following:
  • Brides in the Sky
  • Shades
  • Comanche Queen
  • Fairy Tales
  • Interview with Etta Place, Sweetheart of the Sundance Kid
  • Ghost Walk
  • Operator
  • Hay Season
  • A Thousand Stings – a novella