Monday, December 05, 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Fiction/Romance

When the restaurant that Louisa has been working at for the past 6 years shuts down, she knows she needs to find a job soon. Her dad thinks he is going to be laid off at any time, her mom is taking care of her grandfather who had a stroke, and her sister wants to go back to school but can't because of her young son. The family needs Louisa's income. She finds a job listing to be a companion for a quadriplegic. She would be responsible for basic care and basic cleaning, but also spending time with this man Will. Lou isn't sure she can do it, but she has no choice and goes for the interview, getting the job.

The two don't hit it off right away. Will is used to pushing people away and Lou is a bit eccentric. Eventually they come to an understanding, when Louisa learns a secret the family has kept from her. She doesn't want to be a part of it, but enjoys Will's company and wants to show him how he can still live a somewhat normal life.

The shining light in this book isn't the plot, though it's good, so much as it's the characters. Lou is quirky. She is annoyed with her sister, complacent with her boyfriend, but just trying to do right by her family. She's a very realistic portrayal and one you can get behind very easily. Will, though being slightly acerbic, you can understand why he is this way and you see the glimmers of wit and intelligence behind his facade. The two make a great combination for this story.

The plot is slightly predictable, you know what's coming, but the journey to get there is memorable and worth while. I really enjoyed this book. However after reading reviews of the second book in the series, I think I'll stay away from that one.

Rating:
(4.5/5)

Saturday, December 03, 2016

9 Dragons by Michael Connelly

Mystery

Detective Harry Bosch has had a slow couple of weeks. He ends up getting the case of a murder in a liquor store at what seems to be a robbery at first. He brings his partner, who has been half-assing the job, and sets to bringing justice to the family. After looking at the security tapes, Bosch begins to think that this could be a gang issue. As he investigates the triads, his daughter is kidnapped in Hong Kong. Bosch stops everything to fly to Hong Kong and find his daughter. Are the two related?

This book is a bit of a change in pace from regular books in the Bosch series. Since Bosch is looking for his kidnapped daughter, he's taken out of the usual search for clues on a murder and the story has a much more personal note. Yet I still felt like the two stories didn't quite flow together that well. I enjoy all Bosch books, but this wasn't my favourite.

First Line: "From across the aisle Harry Bosch looked into his partner's cubicle and watched him conduct his daily ritual of straightening the corners on his stacks of files, clearing the paperwork from the center of his desk and finally placing his rinsed-out coffee cup in a desk drawer."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Fiction/Literature

Chiyo is taken away from her family in a fishing village of Japan and sold to become a geisha in Kyoto. She has very unique eyes which sparks interest from men and jealousy from women. The current geisha of her household does not take well to Chiyo and does what she can to ensure Chiyo doesn't become a geisha. In Chiyo's despair, she happens upon a man of high standing that treats her well and gives her a handkerchief to wipe her tears. Chiyo decides she must become a geisha to find this man again. A rival house offers to train Chiyo and she becomes Sayuri and a very well known geisha.

This book offers some insight in to a world I knew nothing about and it uses very engaging characters to do so. You can instantly connect with Chiyo and how scared she is being sold to a completely different world. The bad characters are interesting as well and you can hate them pretty easily. The characters I didn't completely understand were the men. Why do men pay extravagant amounts of money to have someone pour them sake and tea? Maybe it's because I'm not a man that I don't understand it.

I don't usually enjoy books with flowery descriptions of things, which this book has, but here I thought they were rather lyrical and didn't mind them. If you're looking for a book to get lost in another world, this is a great one.

First Line: "Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago and I said to you, 'That afternoon when I met so-and-so... was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon.'"

Rating:
(4.5/5)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Madame Presidentess by Nicole Evelina

Historical Fiction

Victoria Woodhull was the first female to run for President of the US, back in 1872. She came from a poor family and abusive childhood where her father forced her to work at a young age and her mother was an alcoholic. Trying to get herself out of the situation, she married only to find her husband also abusive. Her spirits tell her she's destined for great things so she bears this marriage until she can divorce her husband and move on. Eventually she pulls her sister away from her parents and the two move to New York to act as spiritual guides for the rich in New York. One of their clients is Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Using Vanderbilt's connections, Victoria and her sister Tennie open up a brokerage in New York, becoming the first females on Wall Street. The two become incredibly rich and the family returns to try and beg for scraps. But Victoria is destined for even more. She believes in the rights for women to vote, and the right for couples to divorce if they no longer love each other. She wants to become president of the USA to bring these rights to the American people.

I'd never heard of Victoria Woodhull before. Susan B Anthony, yes, who is more famous for the women's right movement (and she was made to sound like quite a mean woman). But Victoria Woodhull was an important part of this movement, specifically with her try at the American Presidency. Her story is a fascinating one. She could commune with the spirits, made huge in-roads for the women's movement, and was ultimately destroyed by vanity and gossip.

Now for a bit of honesty. It wasn't until about half way through that I realized Victoria Woodhull was a real person. This reads like a completely fictional novel. I think this is because it feels like everything is over the top and very much dramatized. This treatment of the story got me really engaged. I was looking up Victoria Woodhull when I finished the book and if I didn't enjoy the novel I wouldn't be doing that!

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour!

First Line: "By the time I was three, I head learned to fear the dark - that was when Pa came home smelling of sharp, unpleasant odors and vented his day's worth of rage on us."

Rating:
(4/5)
About the Author
Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. She spent 15 years researching Arthurian legend, Celtic Britain and the various peoples, cultures and religious practices that shaped the country after the withdrawal of Rome. Other historical interests include the Middle Ages and women who made their mark on history. And she LOVES Chicago.

Find her on Twitter, Facebook and at her website.


Madame Presidentess Giveaway

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Victoria and Albert by Evelyn Anthony

Historical Fiction

Queen Victoria ascended to the throne of England at the young age of 18. Despite having powerful female rulers in the past, it seemed that England still wasn't used to one and wanted Victoria to marry as soon as possible to have a husband help her with policy-making. Victoria doesn't seem all that interested in marriage and having a man to rule over her until she meets her cousin Albert. He's incredibly handsome and Victoria falls in love with him right away. The two set to marry.

Victoria is very happy. She has Albert by her side and she is very friendly with the English Prime Minister. However Albert doesn't enjoy his new lifestyle all that much. Albert doesn't love Victoria but realizes its his duty to be a good husband. He feels worthless with the very little that Victoria allows him to do. This is the story of their marriage from when they meet until when one of them passes away.

I haven't read much on Queen Victoria in the past so I don't know much about her. This book portrayed her as rather rigid but also completely tunnel visioned about her friends. There is no grey with Victoria. It's all either white or black. She loves someone or she hates them. It's tough to see how someone could rule a nation with that kind of mentality.

This is an interesting look in to Victoria's early reign and her relationship with Albert, though it was a bit slow at times.

First Line: "A footman has opened the shutters on two of the long windows in the Green Drawing Room at Kensington Palace, and a pale predawn light spread through the room."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Stolen by Kelley Armstrong

Fantasy
Elena is the only female werewolf, which makes her a hot commodity. She is cornered by a couple of witches that want her help. There have been kidnappings of people with paranormal abilities. They need to come together and find out what to do about it. This includes witches, half-demons, vampires, and of course Elena's pack of werewolves. When Elena is kidnapped, she realizes a narcissistic punk is at the centre of this and must do what she can to escape and help her fellow inmates.

This is the second book in the series of 13, so far. You probably don't need to read the first to understand what is going on in the second, but having the background on Elena, how werewolves are created, and how the pack works definitely helps. Plus it's a great book, so check it out.

I'm not usually in to fantasy. I only dip into the genre every so often. These books are super easy to get in to and they are page turners. Elena is a likable, strong character. She's only irritating in her love life but those irritants didn't come through as much in this novel as the previous one.

I'm not sure I want to commit to another 11 books for this series but if I do happen across the third in the series, I'll probably read it.

First Line: "He hated the forest."

Rating:
(4/5)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Girlfriend Curse by Valerie Frankel

Chick Lit

Peg is getting over her ex when he calls her for a reunion. Thinking they may be getting back together, she agrees to meet with him but when he brings his fiancee, Peg can't take it anymore. Looking back at all her ex's, she finds that almost all of them got engaged with the next person they started dating after Peg. Peg is the chronic last girlfriend. She decides she needs to get out of New York and start fresh.

Peg buys a home on a huge plot of land in Vermont and moves there. On the train, she almost settles back in to her old habits when she finds herself attracted to a guy on the train, but instead ends up at Inward Bound, a camp to help those develop better relationship skills.

I'm not usually much of a chick lit reader but I wanted something a bit lighter to read and this hit the spot. It didn't invoke any cringe from me, which I find some chick lit can do. It's not going to win any awards but it serves a purpose and didn't commit any throw-able offenses!

First Line: "Peg Silver, thirty-two, could make a man come, but she couldn't make him stay."

Rating:
(3.5/5)