Historical

My Love for Zelda & The Authors Who Have Kept Her Alive!

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Picture courtesy of: Southern Literary Trail.

 

I am, as usual, late to the party.  However, I always make it; albeit fashionably late. Being an avid reader of historical fiction, and loving the great works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I had read about Zelda and the tumultuous relationship between her and Scott.  However, it wasn’t until I read, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain that my interest truly peaked. While Paula McLain’s book is primarily about Hadley and her love: Ernest Hemingway, there was just enough of a snipped of Zelda and her husband, that I was instantly intrigued to learn more.

It seems that in recent years authors are looking beyond the writer, and wanting to look at their most intimate relationship: the women who stood by these amazing authors.  So, I was quite excited to see that 2 books, which peaked my interest came out around the same time.  While I was looking through my blog, I noticed that I had not written my book reviews for these two amazing books!  While both books are about Zelda Fitzgerald, make no mistake about it….they are vastly different, and exception in their own right.  So, don’t choose between the two.  Buy them both!

 

Click on the cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

One word:  Co-dependent.  Yes, as much as Zelda and Scott are crazy in love, they are even more crazy with out one another.  They need each other, thrive off one another, and seem to feed off one another the more “crazy” one is.  The story starts with Zelda as a teenager, a vibrant 17 year old, who has many suitors at her feet.  However, she zones in one handsome solider: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also only has eyes for her.  It’s rather sweet to read about their courtship, leading up to marriage, and readers can’t help but root for them.

While we all know the ending, it’s what happens in between that makes the story worthwhile.  Theresa Ann Fowler, is a great storyteller, who gives readers a glimpse into the world of the Fitzgerald’s.  Zelda is given a voice, that goes beyond just being “crazy, neurotic, unstable”.  She is clear headed, strong willed, and sets trends despite her desire to do so.  She is simply herself, and that is what makes us all fall in love with her.

Zelda, never meant to be in Scott’s shadow, follows her own dreams of writing, dancing, and making being who she wants to be, all while being with an erratic husband, dealing with the media and what they chose to portray her as, and trying to be the kind of mother she desires, all while also having a mental illness (that wasn’t diagnosed until later in her life).

This is an excellent book that follows Zelda from her courtship through the Jazz age.  It ends with you wanting more Zelda! It’s an excellent book, that is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction, wants to know who the woman is behind F. Scott Fitzgerald, and just loves a great love story (with a little bit of crazy).

supreme cupcake rating 6

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Click on the cover to read synopsis.

My Review:

While both books are independent and can be read in any order, it just made sense for me to read them in the order I have written the reviews.  I loved reading Erika Robuck’s book.  She leaves no stone unturned, and explores her mental illness and the way Zelda navigates through it, while being a wife and mother.  Told through the viewpoint of Zelda’s nurse, Ann, readers get an intimate glimpse into the struggles Zelda faces and how she tries to make sense of it all.

While in the hospital, Zelda writes a memoir that she lets Ann be privy to.  In those journals, Zelda shares the highlights and downfalls of her relationship with Scott, her life before and during her marriage, and how explosive it all was.  Ann also gives readers a glimpse into the relationship between Zelda and her daughter, Scotty, and how Zelda’s erratic behavior impacted her relationship as  mom and wife.  Scott needs his muse, Zelda, and to the demise of Zelda, often brings her home.  However, Ann is never far away and is the calming, strong force that helps them both through that tough period.

As a family therapist, I was absolutely intrigued to read about the way mental health was addressed, the therapies given in the psychiatric hospital, and they way Zelda flourished/caved in, different points of her treatment.  This is a book that will stay with readers for a long time, and is as heartbreaking and courageous as Zelda, herself.  I loved the balance between Ann’s story and Zelda’s and the look inside a psychiatric hospital, while also giving readers much to appreciate and adore in the person Zelda was.

After I finished this book, I downloaded most of the books about Zelda, which I hope to read at one point.   Truthfully, before these books came out: Z is for Zelda and Call Me Zelda, I had no idea how dynamic Zelda was.  She is an intriguing woman, who was more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, she was a trendsetter, a fashionista, an artist, a mother, daughter, and simply a brilliant woman!  This is an excellent read and anyone who loves anything to do with “The Jazz Age”, F. Scott Fitzgerald, curious about mental illness and the impact it has on families, and Zelda Fitzgerald, will easily want to add this book to their bookshelf.

supreme cupcake rating 6

HFVBT Book Tour Review: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

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My Review:

This is by far the best Historical fiction novel I have read this year! Anne Girard is a masterful storyteller, weaving in a beautiful storyline where there are blanks in history about the relationship between Eva Gouel and Pablo Picasso.  We all know who Pablo Picasso is, his many relationships with women (who often became his muse), and the incredible artwork he created.  However, not much is known about the one woman who helped shaped his career, taught him love and forgiveness, and who he never painted a complete portrait of.  Even that portrait was never shown to the public, until after his death, which was found amongst many of his own personal belongings.

In the early 1900’s, Picasso was working his way up the ladder to become one of the world’s best artists.  However, during that time, he was really just starting out and with a few a paintings and a huge dream, he sets off to Paris.  Eva is a young girl, pushed by her parents to marry the fellow neighbor.  Determined to have a better life and make something of herself, she also sets off to Paris.  Eva starts out as a seamstress at the famous Moulin Rouge, where anyone that is important, will show up to see the performances.  It is there that Eva meets Picasso.

Through a test of their relationship and devotion, both Eva and Picasso set out to create their “Eden”.  Anne Girard introduces us to other fantastic artists and poets, who all seem to conjugate at Gertrude Steins home for exquisite parties.  It the place to be for artists to talk, debate, and reignite fires for their works.  While Eva wasn’t the first Madame Picasso, nor the last, she certainly is the one who left the biggest imprint on his life and art.

For the first half of the book, readers will catch a glimpse of their own personal challenges, the start of their relationship, and how they soon become partners, in every way.  The second half of the book goes very fast.  I kept sensing this impending doom, almost like a Romeo and Juliet sequence of sorts, and I kept finding myself holding my breath! I stayed up well past 3 am, because I had to know the fate of their relationship, and wept at the end of the book.  Then, like any other historical fiction fan, I googled Eva Gouel and was shocked to see that so little is known about her, which makes Anne Girard even that much more of a genius and incredible writer!

This is a phenomenal book, one that history buffs will devour in a day or two.  It’s a book that will stay with you for days afterward, and deserves the attention and merit that books like, Call Me Zelda, Z is for Zelda, and The Paris Wife received.  My only request is that someone now write a book about Gertrude Stein and her beloved partner, Alice!

If you have time, I highly recommend you visit Anne’s page.  She has an excerpt of the book, some background information on an interview she did with a friend of Pablo’s, and other interesting information! This is such an incredible book, that I even bought my own copy!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided by the author and HFVBT for review, in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author03_Anne Girard

Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. “Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw,” he said, “only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers.” Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone’s encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Anne also writes historical fiction under the name Diane Haeger. For more information, visit www.dianehaeger.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, August 26
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women
Review at Curling Up by the Fire

Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 3
Spotlight at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 5
Review at To Read or Not to Read

Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, September 11
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, September 12
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 16
Review at She is Too Fond of Books

Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 23
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at The Librarian Fatale

Wednesday, September 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner

Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

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Click on image to read synopsis.

My Review:

First, I absolutely love the title and book cover.  I understand there is another book cover, but the one I have is the cover I have posted up top.  The title sends chills down my spine, now as I reflect back on the love between Rosetta and her husband, Jeremiah.  The cover is a depiction of Rosetta (and any other female solider disguised as a man).  I have to admit, I don’t really enjoy reading about war.  I already know that there will be blood, gore, death, and family separation…and it all just makes me sad.  However, when I read the synopsis, I knew this book was an exception.  I’m so glad that I did read this book!

Based on a compilation of true stories, Erin brings to life the characters of Rosetta (Ross), Jeremiah, and the troops they fight with.  During the Civil War, I was shocked that there were many soliders (disguised as men), who fought in the war.  I realize I may be in the minority, but again-I’m not a war book reader, however it wasn’t until this book that I learned about the brave women-who fought alongside brave, young men, too.  Back then, physicals weren’t given and it was just your word and a signature that allowed you to join up for war.  Before the era of social media and internet, soldiers didn’t have ways of delivering and receiving mail often from their loved ones.  So, there were months before a letter was received.  Erin is so detailed in sharing more about the life of a solider, during a time when communication was limited, resources were scarce, and the unknown was their greatest challenge.

Despite all the war details in the book, Erin weaves a beautiful love story, in the midst of a very brutal, bloody, and horrific war.  These were soldiers on the battle front, who had to walk into the line of fire and see their comrades blown to bits, injured, and even had to bury those who were killed.  I can’t imagine the PTSD all these soldiers experienced!!!

I love the character: Will!!  He is also a solider, who has a “secret”, and shares it with Ross.  I love their relationship as friends, and the way they treated each other as equals.  Ross is one tough woman and I love the way her character is portrayed.  She is tough on the battlefield, is a loyal friend to her comrades, and is a devoted wife to her husband.

There are so many layers to this book: the role of women, the issues of battle, family issues, death, and friendships.  It’s an excellent book to read!  While there is some subject matter that readers may be concerned about (the details of a horrific war, homosexuality (only lightly discussed), some sexual implied scenes), it is relevant to the storyline, and is not graphic (besides the war).  None of those issues should dissuade a reader from buying and reading this book. I absolutely loved this book!  If you do read it, grab some tissue…there are some tearjerker moments!

*This book was provided by Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest review.

 

HFVBT Book Tour Review: The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee

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My Review:

First, of all-I absolutely loved the title and cover of this book!  I’m a huge fan of artwork, and when it represents the storyline so perfectly-it immediately grabs my interest!

In the beginning, Betsy is just a “typewriter girl”.  Typing away, with all the other women in a factory.  It reminded me of the stories my MIL has told me, when she lived in Mexico and trained as a receptionist.  Every day, she had to wear heels, a little hat, black skirt with a white blouse, and gloves…just like Betsy (minus the hat).  It was all about appearance, as much as it was work ethic, so I was instantly able to picture the factory that Betsy worked in- long hours, little pay, and no recognition.  To this day, she still remembers how to write short hand!

I loved the book from the start.  The setting is during a time when women were working, but really just “staying busy”, until they are married and have children.  Betsy Dobson is the girl that breaks all the rules, finds her way amongst a male dominated world, and rises to the top because of hard work and sheer determination.  Betsy had a canary, that she takes with her everywhere. I cringed every time she called his name, “Thief”, but in some way it seemed quite fitting.  While Betsy isn’t a thief, she definitely changes her life, her story, to get a job that will hopefully change her future because her past is a place she doesn’t want to revisit again.  In her past, she had to give so much of herself, that in her future- she is not willing to give any of herself that she doesn’t want to.  It’s on her terms, this time.

What was most interesting, is that Alison Atlee writes this story from the Victorian era, but aside from the dresses and formal wear- Alison peels away the curtain and shows the gritty side to that time period with the language, the complex characters who are trying to make a better life, and fit in during a time when appearances were everything.

An interesting note, is that Alison creates a new place: Idensea (although I kept reading it as Indonesia), reminded me of the Grand Hotel (from the movie, Somewhere in Time).  The magical feel of the place, the different activities, and big events…just made me want to go there!

An excellent book with complex characters, who are misfits, trying to find their place and move up in their world!

excellent cupcake 5

*Thank you to HFVBT for providing me the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author03_Alison Atlee

Alison Atlee spent her childhood re-enacting Little Women and trying to fashion nineteenth century wardrobes for her Barbie dolls. Happily, these activities turned out to be good preparation for writing historical novels. She now lives in Kentucky.

For more information please visit Alison Atlee’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

The Typewriter Girl Blog Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, August 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Mina’s Bookshelf
Book Blast at Princess of Eboli
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse
Book Blast at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, August 5
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews (Print)
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 6
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, August 7
Book Blast at Mari Reads
Book Blast at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, August 8
Book Blast at Book Blast Central

Saturday, August 9
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Sunday, August 10
Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, August 11
Review at Just One More Chapter (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Gobs and Gobs of Books

Tuesday, August 12
Book Blast at Queen of All She Reads

Wednesday, August 13
Review at Historical Tapestry (Audio Book)
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, August 14
Review at A Bookish Affair (Print)
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Friday, August 15
Review at Brooke Blogs (Audio Book)
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Saturday, August 16
Book Blast at Broken Teepee

Sunday, August 17
Interview at Closed the Cover

Monday, August 18
Review at The Maiden’s Court (Audio Book)

Tuesday, August 19
Book Blast at Layered Pages
Book Blast at Always with a Book

Wednesday, August 20
Book Blast at Literary, Etc.

Thursday, August 21
Book Blast at Bibliotica

Friday, August 22
Review at Bibliophilia, Please (Audio Book)

Saturday, August 23
Book Blast at Reading Lark
Book Blast at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, August 24
Book Blast at Passages to the Past

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary (Audio Book)
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, August 26
Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, August 28
Review at Luxury Reading (Print)
Review at The True Book Addict (Audio Book)
Review at Jorie Loves a Story (Print)

Friday, August 29
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at Books in the Burbs (Print)

 

The Typewriter Girl Swag Giveaway

One copy of The Typewriter Girl (Audio Book or Print)
Set of earbuds in a cute typewriter print pouch
A Typewriter Girl Happily-Ever-After t-shirt (features last lines from famous novels)
A vintage style postcard “from” Idensea, the setting of The Typewriter Girl
A “dream wildly” ribbon bookmark with typewriter key charms

To enter, please click on this link.

Giveaway is open to residents in the US, Canada, and the UK.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on August 30th and notified via email.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

TLC Book Tour Review: Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert

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Reading this novel, I could imagine break out female actresses and singers, who are single moms and travel with their child(ren).  This story details the struggles and daily challenges Naomi faces to become a star, even at the expense of her daughter, Sophia.

Sophia is not your average little girl.  Of course, she is also living on the road, living with different people, and has a different perspective on life.  She is an observer, and journals words/thoughts/ideas in her two little notebooks.  While she doesn’t have a father in her life, Jim (Naomi’s manager) assumes that role and becomes a father figure to Sophia-who she looks to for support.

During a time of racism, sexual revolution, and the challenges of being a single mom, Naomi’s life is revealed through the eyes of her daughter, Sophia.  There are some lesbian moments in the book, although it is not explicit.  Nor does the author go into much detail about that part of Naomi’s life.  It’s an interesting tale and a cautionary one, because sometimes to gain fame, it means to lose those you love most.

 

great cupcake rating 4

 

About Rebecca Rotert:

Rebecca Rotert received an M.A. in Literature from Hollins College, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets prize. Her poetry and essays have appeared in a range of magazines and journals. She’s an experienced singer and songwriter, who has performed with several bands, and a teacher with the Nebraska Writers Collective. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. This is her first novel.

Follow Rebecca on Twitter: @RebeccaRotert.

Rebecca’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, July 1st: Drey’s Library

Thursday, July 3rd: Kritters Ramblings

Friday, July 4th: Sweet Southern Home

Monday, July 7th: Book-alicious Mama

Tuesday, July 8th: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, July 10th: Books à la Mode

Monday, July 14th: Becca Rowan

Tuesday, July 15th: BookNAround

Wednesday, July 16th: Olduvai Reads

Thursday, July 17th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

TBD: The Written World

 

 

 

 

 

She Reads May & June Books of the Month

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May turned out to be one crazy, busy, but wonderful month! My youngest son received his driver’s license!! My oldest son graduated from high school, with honors, and we had many celebrations for that!  We had a wonderful visit with family, from Tennessee, and it seems that before I knew it-May had already come and gone!

With that, I did not do much reading that month! However, I sure have made up for it, during the month of June!  Below are the book reviews for the books of the month, through She Reads.

 

May Book of the Month:

Synopsis:

On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?my book thoughts

The title and cover didn’t grab my interest too much, so it’s not a book that I would have gravitated towards on my own.  However, I am SO glad that She Reads selected this book as our May selection.  This is one of those moments: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!

From the moment I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. I read the book in about 2 nights, with me sneaking a chapter or two throughout the day.  While the setting is 1980, it felt more like 1960/1970’s.  I think that is why the book seemed real to me, because I kept imagining the time period a little more dated.  With 5 college friends deciding to turn away from the world, they decide to live on a lake, in a run down cottage.  With drug infused moments and “free” love, the group of 5 all find themselves in a situation that will challenge their friendships and loyalties.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Hannah Richell weaves together this incredible story that will make readers stop doing chores, not want to go on Disney rides, and be willing to sit in the heat for hours, if only to read a few pages.  Oh wait….that was me!  LOL!

Okay, back to the review….

One of the main characters, Kat, is disillusioned with her love for Simon, will do whatever she needs to so that she earn his love and will risk the lives of those closest to her.  She will definitely not be someone that readers will align themselves with-which I love that Richell creates this character whose voice readers have to hear-in order to know what happens next! Readers won’t be able to just close the book without knowing what happens next.

Lila is a character that many will feel compassion towards to and will root for, as she figures out the fate of her marriage, comes to terms with her miscarriage, and finds answers to what happened during that “Shadow Year”.

This book can easily have a sequel, as I would love to know what happens! It’s an excellent book for book clubs to discuss, dissect the characters, and find closure with what happens at the end!  This is a book that will stir emotions for readers, will keep them up late at night reading, and will ultimately be a fantastic summer read!

excellent cupcake 5

* A huge thanks to She Reads and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

June Book of the Month:

During the month of June, She Reads gave the bloggers a month off!  However, we also had the opportunity to read a book, from a selection of titles.  I chose one that I loved!

 Synopsis:

A novel based on the true story behind Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic pink suit.

On November 22, 1963, the First Lady accompanied her husband to Dallas, Texas, dressed in a pink Chanel-style suit that was his favorite. Much of her wardrobe, including the pink suit, came from the New York boutique Chez Ninon, where a young seamstress, an Irish immigrant named Kate, worked behind the scenes to meticulously craft the memorable outfits.

While the two women never met, Kate knew every tuck and pleat of the First Lady’s polished, perfect image. When the pink suit Kate created becomes iconic for all the wrong reasons, her already fragile world–divided between the excess and artistry of Chez Ninon and the traditional values of her insular neighborhood–threatens to rip apart.

The Pink Suit is the unforgettable story of an ordinary young woman with extraordinary access to glamour and fashion, living in an America on the brink of transformation.

my book thoughts

I love Coco Channel and have read books on her, seen movies about her, and even have her perfume: Coco Mademoiselle!  So, it was a real treat to find her among the pages of this fantastic book!  I am not a fashionista, by any means.  I am not the shopper, who can look at clothes for hours on end.  I don’t even like looking at the magazines, with just pictures of fashion.  I just love to read the articles! I love to read, period.

So, this book was a departure of books I typically am interested in.  However, I have always been fascinated with “The Kennedy’s”, especially Jacqueline Kennedy.  Nicole Kelby writes an incredibly amazing storyline that really does revolve around the making of the “pink suit”.  However, this book also has more!  The story also includes a love story, the struggles of an Irish immigrant couple, and the beginning of unions, in the streets of New York.

Told with such vivid detail, this book comes to life as readers are introduced to Kate.  She is the seamstress, who is assigned to replicate the masterpiece, that was first crafted by Coco Channel.  As the country deals with employment hours, wages, and job availability, “The Wife” buckles under the pressure of buying French couture.  Her staff hires Chez Ninon, an American stylist, who then has to find a way to remake the iconic suit.

I was amazed at the detail the garment took, the fittings that took place in secret, and how this suit becomes the garment most people associate with The First Lady.  There is so much interesting information, weaved into a fantastic storyline, that it is a book many will certainly enjoy!! Readers do not need to be fashionistas.  The storyline becomes a way to capture this one suit in time, and thread by thread, weaves the story with a love story and a way to celebrate American art.

excellent cupcake 5

 

TLC Book Review: One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore

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Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date:  May 6, 2014

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 480

ISBN:  0062291882

Format:  Paperback

Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher

Synopsis:

The acclaimed novelist and prizewinning historian Simon Sebag Montefiore explores the consequences of forbidden love in this heartbreaking epic, inspired by a true story that unfolds in Stalin’s Russia during the bleak days after World War II.

A jubilant Moscow is celebrating the Soviet Union’s victory over Hitler when gunshots ring out though the city’s crowded streets. In the shadow of the Kremlin, a teenage boy and girl are found dead. But this is no ordinary tragedy, because these are no ordinary teenagers. As the children of high-ranking Soviet officials, they inhabit a rarefied world that revolves around the exclusive Josef Stalin Commune School 801. The school, which Stalin’s own children attended, is an enclave of privilege—but, as the deaths reveal, one that hides a wealth of secrets. Were these deaths an accident, a suicide pact . . . or murder?

Certain that a deeper conspiracy is afoot, Stalin launches a ruthless investigation. In what comes to be known as the Children’s Case, youths from all over Moscow are arrested by state security services and brought to the infamous interrogation rooms of the Lubyanka, where they are forced to testify against their friends and their families. Among the casualties of these betrayals are two pairs of illicit lovers, who find themselves trapped at the center of Stalin’s witch hunt. As the Children’s Case follows its increasingly terrifying course, these couples discover that the decision to follow one’s heart comes at a terrible price.

A haunting evocation of a time and place in which the state colluded to corrupt and destroy every dream, One Night in Winter is infused with the desperate intrigue of a political thriller. The eminent historian Simon Sebag Montefiore weaves fact and fiction into a richly compelling saga of sacrifice and survival, populated by real figures from the past. But within the darkness shines a deeply human love story, one that transcends its moment as it masterfully explores our capacity for loyalty and forgiveness.

my book thoughts

I first have to mention, how fitting writing this review is, today.  Today, is Memorial Day, an important date that Americans celebrate and honor the American soldiers who have fought bravely and lost their lives doing so, for our freedom and those of others.

One Night in Winter is the sequel to Sashenka, however is a book that can stand on it’s own.  The first scene that takes place, reminded me of a couple of fateful scenes in Romeo and Juliet, all rolled into one.  It’s the end of World War II, Stalin is in control of his country, and like any narcisstic leader-still demands the loyalty of the people.

Centered around young teens, who many are children of leaders in the political party, movie stars/entertainers, and fierce supporters of Stalin’s regime.  However, what became one tragic story, turns into a twisted and demented opportunity for Stalin to use this situation to his favor: put children against parents, parents against each other, and everyone’s loyalty is questioned.

This is a profound book that will have many crying, angry, sad, and think of this book for many days and years to come.  Simon is a gifted and talented author, who can write something so tragic and yet in the midst of it, give the reader hope, show the beauty in a time when things were bleak, and teach people what can happen when too much control is given to one person.  This is a fantastic story that would be wonderful for any high school or college course studying history, world events, character analyses, and would certainly make for an awesome book club pick!! The discussions would be endless for sure!

It’s a long read, but every page is worth it.  A great book to add to any TBR list for sure!

supreme cupcake rating 6

About Simon Sebag MontefioreSimon Sebag Montefiore

Simon Sebag Montefiore’s bestselling books are published in more than forty languages. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Sashenka. As a historian, his works include Jerusalem: The Biography, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, and Young Stalin, which was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Costa Biography Prize (UK), and Le Grand Prix de Biographie Politique (France).

Find out more about Simon at his website and connect with him on Facebook.

 

Simon’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, May 7th: Man of La Book

Monday, May 12th: 5 Minutes For Books

Tuesday, May 13th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Wednesday, May 14th: Dwell in Possibility

Thursday, May 15th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, May 20th: More Than Just Magic

Wednesday, May 21st: Read Lately

Thursday, May 22nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, May 22nd: Walking With Nora

Monday, May 26th: Book-alicious Mama

Monday, May 26th: Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, May 27th: Bookfoolery and Babble

Wednesday, May 28th: The House of the Seven Tails

Monday, June 2nd: The Written World

Tuesday, June 3rd: Ageless Pages Reviews

Thursday, June 5th: Read. Write. Repeat.

TBD: Bibliophilia, Please

 

 

TLC Book Tours Review: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

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  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062244752
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literature
  • Source:  TLC Book Tours & Publisher
  • Format:  Paperback
  • Synopsis:
  • A luminous and unforgettable tale of two women, destiny, and identity in Afghanistan

    Kabul, 2007: The Taliban rules the streets. With a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can rarely leave the house or attend school. Their only hope lies in the ancient Afghan custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a son until she is of marriageable age. As a boy, she has the kind of freedom that was previously unimaginable . . . freedom that will transform her forever.

    But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-great-grandmother Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life in the same way—the change took her on a journey from the deprivation of life in a rural village to the opulence of a king’s palace in the bustling metropolis of Kabul.

    Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell interweaves the stories of these two remarkable women who are separated by a century but share the same courage and dreams. What will happen once Rahima is old enough to marry? How long can Shekiba pass as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

my book thoughts

The cover is stunning, absolutely beautiful!  I love the title and felt that it went well with the theme of the book.  If readers are aware of the traditional Muslim gender roles, in the Middle East, then this book shouldn’t be too much of a shock.  There were many times that my heart ached over the way girls were treated vs. boys, the family expectations of women and multiple wives, the devaluation of a woman and the importance of birthing sons, and the inability to walk outside their home without men/boys attacking or harming them.  While the religious culture is vastly different from that promotes gender equality, it is a story that needs to be told and highlighted to understand the themes in the storyline.

Nadia writes so beautifully and shifts between the past and present flawlessly.   Shekiba’s story is one that is filled with sorrow, sadness, but also has glimmers of hope and new beginnings.  Her story read almost like a folktale, that can be passed down from generation to generation for young girls to be inspired and create change.  I was so engrossed with Shekiba’s tale that it was hard to switch mentally to Rahima’s storyline.  However, both stories switched back and forth seamlessly.

Rahima is a little girl, who experiences both sides of the gender norms: as a boy and girl.  As a girl, she experiences being bullied by the boys her age, the inability to walk to school safely, having to wear her burqua, the disappointment she sees in her father’s eyes, etc.  As a boy, she experiences many freedoms of going to school without harassment, going to the story and bargaining/buying goods, having the time to socialize and play after school and not prepare meals, and the approval she gets from her father.

Rahima lives in a household where the country is changing, having to see her father leave for bouts at a time, and have him return to a drunken/drugged stupor.  She also hears the talks amongst the family in her house and their thoughts on family, politics/country, and the “girl talk” women have.

This is a long book.  It took me awhile to read, simply because it was so mesmerizing to learn and read about the culture in Afghanistan, the changing country, and how two families are impacted with gender roles, religion, and political climate change.  It’s a beautiful book and one that will easily be compared to Khaled Hosseini and his lyrical style of writing, in a practical format, that people of all backgrounds will enjoy, cry, rejoice, and remember for a long time.

excellent cupcake 5

About Nadia HashimiNadia Hashimi

Nadia Hashimi’s parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. In 2002, Hashimi visited Afghanistan for the first time. She lives with her family in suburban Washington, D.C., where she works as a pediatrician.

Find out more about Nadia at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

 

Nadia’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, May 7th: The Gilmore Guide to Books

Thursday, May 8th: Lit and Life

Friday, May 9th: Books in the Burbs

Monday, May 12th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, May 12th: A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, May 13th: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, May 14th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Thursday, May 15th: West Metro Mommy

Wednesday, May 21st: Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, May 22nd: Time 2 Read

Monday, May 26th: BoundbyWords

 

 

HFVBT Book Review: Puritan Witch by Peni Jo Renner

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Synopsis:

On a cold night in 1692, two young girls are caught up in the divining games of a slave woman-and then begin to act very strangely when the game goes wrong. Suddenly, Salem Village is turned upside down as everyone fears that witches may be involved. Six months later, as news of the girls’ strange behavior becomes known, fear and suspicion overwhelm a nearby farming community, pitting neighbors against neighbors and turning friends into enemies. When Rebecca Eames makes one careless utterance during a verbal attack on her family, she is falsely accused of witchcraft. After her fate is decided by three magistrates, Rebecca must endure a prison sentence during which she and her fellow captives have no choice but to valiantly struggle to find humanity and camaraderie among dire conditions. In this novel based on a true story, a woman wrongly imprisoned during the seventeenth-century witchcraft trials comes full circle where she must determine if she can somehow resume her life, despite all she has endured.

my book thoughts

I have always been fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials, because there is a plethora of information out there about the different areas, the way in which the trials occurred, and how out of control the whole issue became.  I read a book about the trials in high school, saw the movie, The Crucibles (remember Winona?), and read a lot about it in history class, while in college.

I was intrigued by the book, because it is based on the story of Rebecca Eames, written from her granddaughter (9th generation).  While there is not a lot of new information gathered from the trials, Penni Jo does a fantastic job of sharing the story of her grandmother, while also bringing in what happened to the townspeople, those in prison, and the family.  It’s a quick read, but does give a great glimpse into the life of Rebecca Eames and how incredibly courageous and strong she was, in spite of the accusations and shunning.  She is a remarkable woman and it is wonderful that Penni Jo shared this story with her readers.

Overall, it’s a good book that will certainly be a read for those who love the history of the trials and wants a deeper insight into the Eames family and those also accused.

good cupcake 3

*A huge thanks to HFVBT for giving me the opportunity to read this book for review.  No forms of compensation were given.

 

About the Author

Peni Renner is the author of “Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames”, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th great 03_Peni Jo Rennergrandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachussetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into geneology and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.

After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.

I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.

For more information please visit the Puritan Witch Facebook Page. You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.

Virtual Tour & Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 28
Book Blast at Broken Teepee
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den

Tuesday, April 29
Book Blast at The Lit Bitch
Book Blast at A Book Geek
Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Book Blast at Literary Chanteuse

Wednesday, April 30
Review & Giveaway at Closed the Cover

Thursday, May 1
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Obsession

Friday, May 2
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, May 3
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Sunday, May 4
Book Blast at I’d Rather Be Reading

Monday, May 5
Book Blast at Kincavel Korner

Tuesday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, May 7
Review at Books in the Burbs
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner

Thursday, May 8
Book Blast at Curling Up with a Good Book

Friday, May 9
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Book Blast at Carpe Diem

Monday, May 12
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy

Tuesday, May 13
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, May 14
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry

Thursday, May 15
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Review at Impressions in Ink

Friday, May 16
Book Blast at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, May 19
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Tuesday, May 20
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Book Blast at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, May 21
Book Blast at So Many Books, So Little Time

Thursday, May 22
Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Friday, May 23
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Book Blast at The Mad Reviewer
Book Blast at Reviews by Molly

Saturday, May 24
Book Blast at Book Nerd

Monday, May 26
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, May 27
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Guest Post at Layered Pages

Wednesday, May 28
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, May 30
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Monday, June 2
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Book Blast at To Read or Not to Read

 

 

 

TLC Book Tour Review: The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Posted on Updated on

 

Publisher:  William Morrow

Publication Date:  April 1, 2014

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Source:  TLC Book Tours

Format:  Paperback

Pages:  384

Synopsis:

a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . .

Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanic that she’s harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

my book thoughts

This is such a beautiful, yet tragic love story.  Hazel Gaynor is a gifted author, as she can weave fiction with fact, and even when we all know the outcome of the Titanic, she has us wanting to continue reading!  The Titanic has always had a mysterious, elegant, and somber beauty about it.  It’s the ship that brought the world together, and still does to this day.  With so many books written about the Titanic, Hazel dives into a storyline that has not been told: those left behind.  This book is definitely character driven, and the storyline is like a delicious stew on a cold day!!  It takes time to develop, but to rush it, is to lose the magic that this book contains.

The story is told through different viewpoints, which adds dimension to the characters and makes the plot even more rich and complex.  Maggie and Seamus’ love for one another, with love letters placed perfectly between the storyline, creates its own story-in a way.  While history shows that the Titanic did sink, Hazel is able to bring to life the beauty of the ship, the people onboard and the dreams they had, and the families and friends on land-left behind to figure out what happened and how to move on.

While I was given the paperback for review, I also purchased this book on my Nook.  It is not often that I buy a book I am already reviewing, but this one is a book that I want-for perhaps another day-when I want to revisit the wonderful tales and high hopes of Maggie, her friends, and those who embarked on an adventure, aboard the Titanic.  Buy the book!  It’s a keeper!!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*A huge thank-you to TLC Book Tours, and the publisher, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book!

Hazel’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 1st: Reflections of a Bookaholic

Tuesday, April 1st: Historical Tapestry (guest post)

Thursday, April 3rd: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, April 7th: Ladybug Literature

Tuesday, April 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, April 9th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

Thursday, April 10th: Book-alicious Mama

Monday, April 14th: The Avid Reader

Tuesday, April 15th: Bibliophilia, Please

Wednesday, April 16th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thursday, April 17th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Monday, April 21st: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Tuesday, April 29th: Mel’s Shelves

Friday, May 2nd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, May 8th: My Bookshelf

TBD: Ageless Pages Reviews

TBD: Little Lovely Books 

TBD: Peppermint PhD

 

About the Author:

Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer in Ireland and the U.K. and was the recipient of the Cecil Day Lewis Award for Emerging Writers in 2012. Originally from North Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children, and an accident-prone cat.

Connect with Hazel on Facebook.