Wednesday, November 30, 2011

There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff

There Is No DogAt first, I found this book hilarious and was spending more time laughing than reading. Let's pretend that God is really a teenage boy who's really horny and every time he falls in love with a chick, a mortal chick, the earth is destroyed by crazy weather. Every time he forgets to turn off the water in his bathtub, the earth is flooded. And this is a very lazy, self-centered, God named Bob whose mother won the planet earth in a galaxy poker game. The author gets a star for uniqueness alone. LOL

Bob is yet in love with another mortal girl, Lucy. But it can't work because Lucy is going to age, wither, and rot and Bob is going to stay Bob. There's also Mr. B who does all the work and wishes to resign, Estelle (I have nothing much to say about her. Her character didn't have a lot of impact, really.) Bob's mom... and this was just too weird. I'll get to that.


The book reminds me of an Adam Sandler movie. It's stupid. It's so stupid, it's funny. 


--Bob screws up his face and farts. (Remember, Bob is God.)


--And Bob said, "Let the earth bring forth grass and the fruit tree," and it did, and Mr. B had to admit that many of the fruits were inventive and delicious, with one or two exceptions-pomegranates, which seemed to be all form and no function, and lemons, which caused his mouth to purse up like a duck's anus...


There's more. There are some absolutely hilarious moments, but they were mostly in the beginning. As the book continued, I discovered I was no longer laughing. The jokes stopped. Bob just became stupid and petulant. The plot.. wasn't going anywhere, really. By the end, had it not been for the laughs, I realized there was no point to reading this book. And Bob's mom.. a prime example of weirdness that was too much.. she runs around wearing nothing but a few postage stamps? Are these little people?


I appreciate the good idea, however, and also like the entire joke of God being a teenage boy and yet the entire world is brainwashed into think he's something wonderful simply because he created man in his own image and instilled in them the desire to worship him. Ha ha ha.


Three stars and this is an ARC I got through Shelf Awareness. Thus, the quotes may not be exact. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alias Dragonfly by Jane Singer

Alias Dragonfly
Female Spy, Civil War.. and for once, on the Union side... I saw this and declared I must read it.


The synopsis: Maddie is fifteen, her mother is dead, her father is off to fight in the Civil War, and she's been dumped at her Confederate loving aunt's boarding house. She finds herself in the middle of intrigue and ends up recruited by Pinkerton agents as a spy. Turns out Maddie has a really good eye..

I should've loved it, but I didn't. Nothing wrong with the writing style, let's get that out there. What did work for me is:

1. She doesn't become a spy until halfway through. The going is slow till then. The seventy percent point, she's still practicing maneuvers. 

2. Some things were just too preposterous. We're supposed to believe that Aunt Salome, the old stick in the mud, the same lady who gripes at Maddie for not dressing properly, is going to allow one of her boarders to just drag Maddie off to his sister's house for two days without a chaperone? I don't think so.

3. It took so long for Maddie and her reporter friend to follow her dad and his troops to the battle that they had to camp and all, but when the battle's over, Maddie simply hops on a wagon and voila! She's back at the boarding house.. ?

4. The reports, newspaper editorials.. What was the point? 

5. Master of Disguise? Not till the very end almost.

By the time the action occurred, I wasn't motivated to go any further. I give this a two. Again, like the style, but way too drawn out. Needs more action in the beginning. 

This was a netgalley book.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Last Nude by Ellis Avery


The Last NudeA fascinating book. I was so intrigued by all of its characters and going ons, that I had to google the Lempicka's complete works and see the paintings mentioned in the novel for myself. 

La Belle Rafaela, 1927 - Tamara de Lempicka - www.tamara-de-lempicka.orgTamara Lempicka was a famous artist who began her life as a Pole in Russia...later kicked out in the revolution. She honed her skills as a a painter in Paris and explored freely with her sexuality. Apparently, (in this book, anyway) any artistic woman in France in 1927 worth her salt was a Lesbian. The heroine and Lempicka tend to socialize and stay in that inner circle.


Rafaela narrates the tale. Rafaela escaped an unwanted marriage to find herself posing naked on Lempicka's couch. Lempicka takes Rafaela to her bed as well through her narrative and eyes, we learn about how Lempicka painted La Belle Rafaela, The Dream, Nude With Dove, Chemise Rose, and Full Summer. The pink chemise...a gift sewn by Rafaela...the Nude With Dove...due to an issue of jealousy and an old lover of Lempicka's, it's actually Rafaela's body, but another woman's face. 
High Summer, 1928 - Tamara de Lempicka - www.tamara-de-lempicka.orgThese paintings, mostly of Rafaela, set off a bidding war between two very rich men. Enter greed, lies, deceit, train tickets, unlocked doors, money exchanging hands, private eyes smoking cigarettes, and above all, Rafaela's broken heart. See, she loves Lempicka, but Lempicka only loves...herself.

The Pink Tunic, 1927 - Tamara de Lempicka - www.tamara-de-lempicka.orgThe last part, the last quarter of the book, suddenly switches over to an old Lempicka with shaky hands and a  fading memory and I actually fell asleep here. I found her narrative very boring, and I was a tad disappointed that we don't really find out what happened to Rafaela. At the same time, however, I also appreciated the unique ending. It's different. The entire novel is different.


I also learned a lot about a fascinating woman. Violette Morris: a race car driver who cut off her breasts just to better fit in a car, a professional boxer who even knocked out men, and a gifted athlete. Sadly, she also ended up on the Gestapo's side during the war...but nevertheless, she had a few guest appearances in this books and I was really intrigued. Had to google her as well. 

Favorite scene: When Rafaela posed at the party under the flashing light...quickly.. just three flashes. Wow!


Overall: A very good read till the last part. Four stars. I won this on LibraryThing Early Reviewers.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sultana's Legacy by Lisa Yarde

Sultana's LegacySultana's Legacy is a sad and violent story about the downfall of a family. If you read the first book, you would remember Fatima and Faraj and their incredible love for each other and you probably thought, "This is going to be a HEA.." Eh, not really.

There is too much drama to summarize it in a nice and neat little review package. It spans the entire last half of Fatima's and Faraj's lives. We get to know their children and meet their grandchildren and see how the Sultanate has cursed their lives, how greed ruins a family. In book one, Fatima watched her father ascend the throne. In this book, Fatima watches her father battle an addiction and a slight form of madness. He loses the throne to his son, Fatima's brother: the cruel one who tried to kill her in book one. When Muhammad ascends the throne, heads go flying. This leads to marital discord between Fatima and Faraj as she tries to usurp one brother in order to place another brother on the throne...

By this point, I began to see some madness in Fatima and started to wonder if she was just as nutty as her brother. Or is she just a woman determined to do the right thing at any cost? With all that happens, however, it's a wonder she doesn't lose all of her marbles. One brother replaces another, her husband imprisons her, her son betrays her and Faraj, nephews kill uncles.. all in the name of the Sultanship.. or for the lust of a woman.

Obviously, the drama, the violence, the betrayals were non stop. This is not a boring book. I really enjoyed it, the story, the surprising twists, and the author's perfect balance of descriptive details: not too much, not too little.

I was often confused by the characters' sudden personality changes though. I found it odd... that a man who was willing to defy a Sultan for collaborating with a man who killed a child would later support a Sultan who was lopping off random heads...and Fatima supported one man stealing the throne, so when her son did the same thing, why was she so outraged? In the beginning, Faraj was defying the Sultan and she was telling him how wrong he was, that he must be loyal to the Sultan no matter what. And later, there was a total role reversal as Fatima defied the Sultan and Faraj was all for brown nosing. Throughout the novel, I kept pondering this. But I guess their unpredictability is what made them human. And well, I confess I also thought Fatima may be going through menopause a few times. :p

An exciting read. I should mention there is a lot of violence. It's not for the faint of heart or the squeamish as the author brings to life a violent time. The things men do for power...
Favorite quote: "No, for you could not know the measure of my feelings for her in such a simple answer. The love I bear her is as unfathomable as the depths of the White Sea, even to me."

Four stars and I received this from the author.

And if you missed the first one and want to know more, see my review here: Sultana


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hear Through My Ears Cover Art

I have been chattering about this book for ages.. a year now? But there was one setback after another.. and eleven months into the year, I finally have something to show for it. Here is the cover to Hear Through My Ears, my memoir coming out any day now on kindle. As soon as I have a publication date, I will shout it from the rooftops.

Special thanks to Staci Perkins at Author Creations for putting this together for me. You can find her at: Author Creations FB Page.

The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar

The World We Found: A Novel


What I really liked about this novel is the way one thing led to another.. One woman, imprisoned by her health, by her declining body leads to the release of a woman imprisoned by her marriage.. 

This novel follows six people, four women, two men. The four women were once the best of friends, but time and distance has split them up. However, they still think of each other and more so when it's discovered that one of them, Armaiti, the one in America, is dying of a brain tumor. 

This story was another great part of the novel. Food for thought: You have a tumor/cancer and only 6 months or so to live.. Do you die on your terms? Or do you go through countless surgeries/chemo and die on other's terms? Really loved this aspect. 

Laleh blames herself for Armaiti's tumor, thinking it is the result of a blow to the head long ago in their girls' rioting days.. Her husband tries to make her see reason. Kavita is a lesbian who even in middle age, feels she must hide the fact from her family because it's not just done openly in India. And then there's Nishta... 

Nishta married a Muslim man.. and when the riots occurred, he was changed forever. He says at one point in the book that she's the only beautiful thing left in his life.. and he keeps her close in check, using religion to do so. He imprisons her. The other women only become aware of this when Armaiti calls from America asking them all to come visit her and see her one last time before she dies.. and this how one woman's misfortune becomes one woman's blessing. 



Quibbles: Seemed over wordy and too long for what it actually contained. The girls' past rebellion was brought up a lot, but except for that one riot that was mentioned, I wasn't sure what all they had fighting for or how.. That wasn't too clear to me. The ending.. left me wanting. It felt incomplete. I needed that happy reunion.. not the promise of it.


I got this on Amazon Vine and I give it a three. good, but could be better. 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ride for Rights: Amelia Makes a Guest Appearance

Yes, I'm talking about the famous aviatrix, Amelia Earhart. Did you honestly think for a moment that I could pen a historical novel without inserting my favorite woman in history? She's in not one, but TWO of my books. Besides a spot in Ride for Rights, she's got more than one scene in Derby Dames, the sequel releasing June of 2013.



Excerpt from Ride for Rights
--There was a droning sound, much like a very loud bee above them, and Angeline looked up at the sky in curiosity. She squinted into the noonday sun and placed her hand on her forehead over her eyes in an attempt to see more clearly. The source of the noise was a yellow plane with two sets of wings, a propeller the only thing appearing to keep it in the air. As Angeline watched, the plane swooped down and caused the children to squeal and scatter in mock fright. The plane ascended once again and made a loop before waggling its wings, first the right, then the left, and turning back toward the direction it had come from.
Angeline was awed and said as much to Susan.
Ride for Rights“That’s Amelia,” Susan sighed. “She gives her mother heart failure every time she goes up in that newly acquired contraption. She’s about your age, and she lives in Atchison. She does a flyby every now and then to please the children. I still speak to her mother. Can you imagine flying that?” Susan shook her head at the young pilot’s antics.
“Yes, I can,” Angeline said thoughtfully as she watched the little yellow plane disappear into the Kansas sky. “Yes, I can.”--

How did I come up with this? Angeline and Adelaide end up in Kansas City and Atchison is not far away. For those that may not know, Atchison was Amelia's home town. I had the pleasure of visiting the home of her birth on a recent trip. I will post pictures here in a second.. but let me explain, how I even came up with this connection...
The real life Angeline, Augusta Van Buren, went on to become an aviatrix herself and she was a part of Amelia's famous Ninety-Nines. Amelia started this group of woman pilots in November of 1929, shortly after competing in the Woman's Air Derby that same year. Matter of fact, that's where the idea was born. So, the real life Augusta Van Vuren, no doubt, did at some point, hob not with the famous aviatrix. However, in 1916, Amelia WAS NOT flying around in her yellow plane over Atchison yet. She was actually in Illinois finishing school.  This  information will be found in my Author's Notes. 
And here is Amelia's birthplace, now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace museum:

The outside
A parlor?
She was just as short as me!





The dining room





Outfit worn by Hilary Swank in the movie, Amelia


Worn by Hilary Swank


Worn by Hilary Swank


Another Swanky costume


The bedroom where she was born


Wish I had this painting.
Want to read the entire novel? Ride for Rights is available here: Amazon


Friday, November 11, 2011

The Hollow House by Janis Patterson

The Hollow HouseThis is a historical mystery. Funny thing... except for when the heroine goes to the bookstore, the story never leaves the house, but somehow, the lack of settings do not hurt this book one bit. It's like a historical clue... There one house, there'a murder, and a household full of people and you, along with the heroine, must figure out whodunit. Cause if the head of the household (Well, second in command, actually) were to have her way, the heroine of the story, Rosalind, would be blamed for the murder. Cause she has killed before. Apparently, starting a new life in a new state with a new name isn't going to escape her past...

Rosalind has just begun working as an old lady's companion when a maid is murdered. Was it the butler, the daughter, the husband, the cook, the old lady, or the new hired hand? Rosalind best find out soon or she will be blamed.. cause nothing makes such a good scapegoat as a person who has just escaped a murder rap for killing her husband.


This being a mystery, I'm hesitant to say much more. It was well written, engaging, and I love the heroine and her sarcasm and descriptions. "If Eusacia Congreave was unattractive, her mother was ugly. Unquestionably, magnificently ugly, with a face that resembled nothing more than an ancient, bad-tempered bulldog of uncertain antecedents."


I also liked the fact that the heroine is not cowed.. even when threatened with kidnapping, poisoning, and a mental institution, she defends herself. 


My only quibble: At times, characters were repeating themselves.. If the detective was in the room when so and so revealed this and that, why are you repeating it all to him a few pages later? 


Coming soon from Carina. I received this on netgalley. Four stars. I recommend it. I also wonder if there may be a sequel. I'd love to read it.


  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott


The Dressmaker: A NovelThis novel left me reeling. I loved it. Why? I'm a bit of a Titanic buff. For some reason, the sinking of the magnificent ship has always fascinated me, from the cheap rivets, to the greed behind White Star to the finger pointing and cowardly, selfish people.. This novel has it all plus four very strong women.

Strong woman # 1: Tess boards the Titanic as a helper to the famous fashion designer Lady Duff Gordon. Tess is a strong woman despite her moments of irritating servitude and passiveness in her haste to pacify her employer and maintain her position. In the beginning, Tess up and quits her job, demanding pay for her services, and just waltzes out the door and down to the dock... That takes balls. Throughout the novel, Tess is faced with one dilemma after another. How can she keep Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon) happy without compromising herself or her independent thinking? Has she just exchanged one life of servitude for another? Is Lucile her friend? Get in the boat or sink? When the Titanic trials begin, Tess must choose between a man she holds dear and her employer who can pave her way to the fashion world in America. And when faced with two beaus, Tess must decide if she's going to choose a man who will help her along the way (must like Lucile did) or a man who has nothing to his name, but a lot of gumption and courage.

Strong woman # 2 is Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon. She's strong, but not very likable. She only cares for herself.. She survives on Life Boat 1... Did she and her husband bribe the sailors to abandon survivors in the ocean? Did someone in her boat beat off people in the water? Why was her boat so empty? As the trial unfolds, we find out some shocking answers. She also plays a hand in a suicide of a fellow survivor...  Meanwhile, she embroils Tess further into her web and into her upcoming fashion show..

Strong woman # 3: Molly Brown. You've heard of her.. famous for her money, her house in Colorado, her involvement in women's rights. She has a few guest appearances and almost steals the show. When she jumps into a life boat and discovers that not a single sailor in it knows how to row, she rows the boat herself. "Oh, for God's sake." Scrambling forward, Mrs. Brown grabbed an oar and pointed Tess to the one on the other side. "Let's show these cowards what it means to do your job!"

Strong woman # 4: Pinky Wade, girl reporter for the Times. She's got an ailing father at home, is sick and tired of not making equal pay to the male reporters, befriends Tess and gets to the bottom of a lot of BS going on in the Titanic case on the sides.. Namely, she's out to get Lucile. Did I mention she's also involved in the Suffragist movement? Favorite quote from Pinky: "Women gathering, marching, doing anything together makes a lot of men go crazy. They yell and scream and taunt and shake their fists. You know why? They're scared. They're scared we'll actually gain power and force them to change."

A great novel. I have not a single quibble. It was well told, entertaining, had just the right amount of history mixed in with made up drama and above all, it was full of tough women. And it made me think.. what would I do in this situation? Sink or swim? Save myself only or save others too? Do any of us really know how we will act until we face a situation like this? How many men would throw a tablecloth over their heads to pass as a woman in order to get into a life boat?

A thought to munch on: "My mother's advice was always to hold my head up. First time you let it hang, somebody hammers it down further."

Five stars. This one really made an impact on me. I received this in egalley format from netgalley.