I sense that reviews for Little is Left to Tell by Steven Hendricks are going to be…quite polar. There will be readers who grant this novel copious amounts of stars for its beautifully written prose. For being challenging and complex. For being a masterful blend of reality and the surreal. Then, there will be readers who just leave the stars on the table as they stare at a blank screen thinking, “What the hell did I just read?” and “I don’t have any words to express what I’ve just experienced because the rabbit named Hart Crane ate them all.” Folks…I am the latter.
Upon finishing Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna, I was filled with regret that I didn’t pay better attention in the British Literature class I took my sophomore year of college. The class surveyed Romantic, Victorian, and Modern literature. I happily devoured Romantic literature, which was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and Age of Enlightenment, and it celebrated nature, spirituality, individuality, creativity, and purity. It’s something that resonated with me, and now that I think about it, that’s probably why I’m so keen on the Steampunk subculture; it seems to celebrate many of the same things. Victorian literature and Modern literature? Puh! That stuff could hardly hold my attention. And…now I find that unfortunate because we definitely studied the Irish identity in Modern literature, and that is a major theme in Rebel Sisters. While I enjoyed this novel, I feel I could have experience a different plane of appreciation had I just applied myself a little harder in that class.
How do you go about writing a review for a book that is about one of the most influential women of the 18th century? Wait…how do you go about writing an entire book about one of the most influential women of the 18th century? I am talking about Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, more commonly known as Madame de Pompadour, and Sally Christie has brought her to life in the second installment of her Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, the Rivals of Versailles. Readers, prepare yourself for more inappropriate innuendos!
Last year, I read Ghouls, Ghouls, Ghouls (Ghost Hunter Mystery #5) by Victoria Laurie, and I loved it. I loved it so much that I finished the book in one sitting, which I haven’t done since high school. The pacing was perfect. The spooks were terrifying. The chemistry between main character MJ, and her team member, Heath, was delicious. And the writing was atmospheric. Plus, it helps that the story took place in Ireland. When I picked up No Ghouls Allowed (Ghost Hunter Mystery #9), I thought I was going to be in for another treat and binge-reading session. Unfortunately…I was mistaken.
Every once in a while, I finish a book, and I’m in such awe of what I read that I struggle to find the words to express that. Sometimes I avoid writing a review for a while so I can let every character, setting, and scene sink in, but I do not have that luxury with the Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie. To be totally honest, this review should have probably gone live several hours ago, but I’ve been budgeting my time very poorly lately, and instead found myself finishing this book during my lunch break at work today. Luckily, submersing myself in the world of the Sisters of Versailles came easily; this novel swept me off my feet faster than King Louis XV swept Louise Mailly-Nesle off her feet…or her sister Pauline…or their sisters Marie-Anne and Diane. As for this review? Bare with me here.
I spied my first Maisie Dobbs novel while exploring the fiction stacks at my local library. It was the character’s name that first piqued my interest; I suspected she would be a plucky, young woman determined to prove herself as a private eye, which sounded right up my alley. Then, it was the beautiful book covers that made me pine for the first book in the series, something my local library unfortunately did not have. I returned week after week, but no such luck. Even though I was a tad reluctant to start yet another mystery series promptly in the middle, when TLC Book Tours offered me the opportunity to participate in the Month of Maisie blog tour, I couldn’t resist. Throughout the month of March, several bloggers will be blogging about Jacqueline Winspear’s historical mystery books from the series starter to her newest novel Maisie Dobbs: Journey to Munich, which will be released on March 29, 2016.
I’ve only reviewed two cozy mystery novels at Books & Tea, so I easily consider myself a newbie to this genre; however, I’m already beginning to understand what elements I need to ensure I adore a cozy mystery novel.
- There must be a small town vibe
- There must be witty banter between the BFF4Es
- Paranormal elements are a perk
The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss met two of the four requirements.
I don’t remember how I discovered the author, Bill Bryson, but I do remember reading Notes from a Small Island during summer break following my sophomore year of college. Like most college, summer “vacations”, I spent my days working in a factory– this particular one a plastic injection mold factory that made bumpers for (foreign-made) cars. It was particularly grueling, and often I would come home saturated in water from gigantic, steam-powered machines as well as sweat because Michigan was experiencing record-breaking temperatures that year. That summer, I also read eleven books while at work because my machine often broke down. Maintenance wasn’t a priority because the factory was closing its doors at the end of summer anyway; this was the reality of Michigan in 2007-2008. Michigan’s economy was crumbling, but I was too caught up in living vicariously through Bill Bryson’s grand tour of the United Kingdom to notice. Little did I know that around this time, or at least shortly after, Bryson was beginning yet another grand tour around the United Kingdom in preparation for his recent release The Road to Little Dribbling. And, by Jove! It’s damn near perfect.
There are three really cool things about being a book blogger:
- Gabbing to book blogging buddies about a mutual love for a book
- Finding the courage to step outside your comfort zone by reading a book in a genre you’re unfamiliar with and then being kind of blown away by it
- Writing about your experiences with #1 and #2
Let me tell you about list item number 2.
Look, I’m not proud of what I’m about to admit, but the truth is, I went in prepared to hate this book. I don’t even know why because when I read the summary, I was intrigued, but the day I sat down to read Dig Two Graves by Kim Powers, I felt like it was the last book I wanted to read at the moment. The first pages of notes I took on this book suggest this attitude influenced the way I read the book– nothing but scribbles filled with vitriol for one of the characters, Ethan Holt, American Olympian turned professor teaching the Classics. I thought he was pretentious, especially after his back-handed comment about Harry Potter. What can I say? I’m sensitive about that. And Skip, Ethan’s daughter? He says she is mature for a thirteen year old, but I didn’t see it at all. But then…a switch flipped in chapter two when a new character was introduced. This new person, watching Ethan and his friends and family, while cloaked in the night, created an atmosphere that I can only describe as ominous and macabre. In that moment, I was hooked.