Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Genre of book

Alessandra Cecchi is a very precocious 14 year old when her father brings a young Northern Italian painter in to paint the chapel in the family's palazzo. Allessandra's father is a wealthy merchant in the Renaissance. Florence is under the influence of the Medicis with their love of art and luxury. But Savonarola, a religious monk, is trying to gain political power and life is becoming more violent and morally suffocating. In the midst of all this, the French are threatening to invade.

Alessandra loves to draw and finds the new painter attractive and mysterious. With the French on the doorstep of Florence, Alessandra is given a choice of being sent to a convent or marrying quickly. Her married life is a disaster but Alessandra is allowed the freedom to pursue her art.

Like many of Dunant's books, this is a very sexual book and has a few twists and turns. I did find it quite unrealistic that a child like Alessandra would be so worldly and knowledgeable sexually. That aside, I did find the book interesting in the historical area and a different turn on possible events.

First Line: "_"


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Maybe This Time

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Andie Miller is thinking about accepting a proposal of marriage but before she does that she must deal with her excess baggage, namely her ex, North Archer. Andie stops by North's office to drop off all his uncashed alimony cheques but Northnorth to makes one last request. A cousin of his has died and left the guardianship of two young children to his care. The children have run off all the nannies he has hired to care for them and they refuse to move north to move in with him. The house they live in is in a remote area of Ohio. The house which was moved piece by piece from England is reputed to be haunted. North will pay Andie ten thousand for one month while Andie figures out what is going on and moves the children north to North.

The children are Carter, a very quiet nerdy boy devoted to his sister and Alice, a screamer who seems very strange. The housekeeper is the housekeeper from hell and the house is really eerie. Andie's fiance thinks this is just a ploy by North to keep Andie.

As Andie tries to gain the trust of the children she starts dreaming of North and experiencing very strange happenings. Even Andie is becoming convinced the house is haunted and will not let the children go.

The culmination is a strange 'house party' with North's brother and his manipulative journalist girlfriend, a doubting parapsychologist, a medium, North's rigid mother and Andie's free-wheeling mother who hate each other, North and Andie's jealous fiance.

I loved this book. A bit of paranormal, a bit of mystery, a bit of humour and a bit of romance which made for a quick-paced interesting read. Although a romance this is definitely also a great ghost story.

First Line: "Andie Miller sat in the reception room of her ex-husband's law office, holding on to ten years of uncashed alimony checks and a lot of unresolved rage."


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Devil in the Details by Jennifer Traig

Devil in the Details by Jennifer Traig

Jennifer Traig grew up in the 80s, as Jewish kid in a neighbourhood with very few Jewish families. As she learns more about her religion, she starts to exhibit strange behaviours. She is obsessive-compulsive with her OCD centering on her religion. Unfortunately, in the 80s obsessive-complusive disorder was rarely diagnosed. Traig has troubles determining what is kosher and what isn't, which affects her diet. She obsessively prays, scrubs her hands, and feeds her stuffed animals before feeding herself. Traig doesn't understand what she has or why she is different and neither does her family.

The book is written in a fairly light tone, to the point where Traig makes fun of herself and her parents have some funny one-liners that do the same. I can't help but wonder why Traig's parents would put up with her bizarre behaviour for so long without doing something for her and trying to figure out what her problem was.

The entire book felt like it was the same pace, the same emotion, and the same message. The steady nature of the book made it a bit dull in points. I almost gave up on the book about 1/2 way through but it did get a bit better. I had higher expectations for this one so I don't think I would recommend it.

First Line: "My father and I were in the laundry room and we were having a crisis."


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Shifting Calder Wind

Shifting Calder Wind by Janet Dailey

Chase Calder is shot in Texas and his kinfolk at the Calder ranch in Montana are mourning his death. Laredo Smith saved Chase but Chase is suffering from amnesia. Laredo has taken Chase to be taken care of by his mother Hattie, a registered nurse. Laredo learns who Chase is and packs up Chase and Hattie and takes them to Montana in time for Chase's 'funeral'.

Chase still doesn't remember who shot him but feels he can only trust Jessy, his daughter-in-law. Laredo and Chase decide to 'keep' Chase dead while they investigate who wants him gone. By keeping Jessy in the loop but not his daughter Cat, there are a number of arguments and fights between the two with Tara, Jessy's dead husband's first wife always getting a few licks in.

There are some definite sparks between Jessy and Laredo which I hope are developed in latter books and of course another major character is killed off. This was a good book but there is certainly a lot of murder around Calder ranch and I would hope to see more than one reach old age.

First Line: "A blackness roared around him."